Dr Melissa Hyde, a postdoctoral research fellow with QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said the gap between human organ supply and demand for transplantation had reached a critical level in Australia with only about 11 organ donors for every million people, in 2009.
“Australia has one of the lowest rates of organ donations in the world, yet Australian attitudes towards organ donation tend to be tremendously positive,” she said.
Dr Hyde said the legislation governing organ donation had changed in recent years and had gone from notification on a person’s driver’s licence, to a more formal registration system.
“Today the system requires a person to register their consent or objection to be an organ donor on the Australian Organ Donor Register,” she said.
However, Dr Hyde warned registering your consent did not automatically mean your wishes would be honoured when you died.
“When a person dies their family is asked for their consent and if they refuse, the organ donation does not go ahead,” she said.
“When family members are approached to give authority, regardless of the individual’s legal recorded consent, about 50 per cent of families refuse consent.
“It is believed that a major contributing factor to this, is that 40 per cent of Australians do not know the donation wishes of their loved ones.”
Dr Hyde said this study sought to find out people’s beliefs and opinions about communicating their organ donation wishes to their loved ones and on the register.
“The survey seeks to capture a range of beliefs about communicating the organ donation decision from people who do wish to donate their organs upon death, people who do not wish to donate, and people who are undecided about donation,” she said.
The survey is open to Australian residents who are over 18 years and available at www.survey.qut.edu.au/survey/169415/16ec/ and closes on October 31.
To obtain a paper copy of the survey email [email protected]
Media contact – Sandra Hutchinson, QUT media officer 07 3138 2999 or [email protected]
**A high resolution photo of Dr Hyde is available for media use