6 compelling reasons to register as an organ donor

Thought about signing up as an organ donor, but haven’t done anything about it yet? Here’s why you should.

Australia is crying out for more organ donors, with more than 1700 people desperately waiting for a transplant right now.

With each donor having the potential to save up to seven people, it’s the gift of life that keeps on giving – leaving a legacy you and your family can be proud of.

Take a look at six reasons why you should consider signing up:

1. It doesn’t matter how old you are

Older people often don’t register because they believe their organs won’t be of use if they die, says Organ and Tissue Authority chief executive Lucinda Barry.

However last year, the oldest donor was 84, she says.

Age isn’t a barrier and what we want is for people who support donation to register to be a donor, tell their family and leave it up to the doctors to decide whether their organs are suitable for donation and transplantation,” she says.

Anyone aged 16 or over can register as an organ donor.

2. No, you’re not too unfit or unhealthy

Fear of not being healthy enough is another reason many people don’t sign up, says Lucinda.

“But you don’t have to be at the peak of fitness – you can eat takeaway, you can have a few drinks,” she says.

“In fact if you have one or two drinks and you’re OK at the end of it, it’s a sign that your liver’s working pretty well.”

3. Only a tiny percentage of donors will be suitable

Only about 2 per cent of people who die in an Australian hospital each year will be able to donate their organs, says Lucinda.

That’s because donors must die in an intensive care unit for their organs to be working well enough to be transplanted.

So it’s vital that as many people as possible register their intention to donate.

4. That ‘tick’ on your licence no longer cuts it

In most Australian states the rules have now changed. The best way to ensure your wish to be a donor is known is to register at donatelife.gov.au or via the federal government’s myGov site.

You must also tell your family.

5. You will spare your family having to make a difficult decision

“It is really positive to see that the majority of Australians support organ and tissue donation. If you support donation and want your wishes fulfilled at the end of your life, you should go and register,” says Lucinda.

“The benefit of that is your family doesn’t really have to make a decision at what is usually a time of incredible grief, because they already know what you want.”

6. You’ll be helping those you leave behind

Lucinda says when a person dies, their organs could save up to seven other people – and potentially many more through tissue donation. This often proves a huge comfort to the donor’s family.

“We consistently hear that the opportunity to give the gift of life to another person really helps them in this immense time of grief,” she says.

DonateLife Week runs from July 26 to August 2. To register as an organ and tissue donor, go to donatelife.gov.au.

Written by Larissa Ham.