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Despite the Federal Government dedicating millions of dollars to improving Australia’s extremely low organ donation rates there have been no clear improvements since the reform was implemented in 2009.

In 2008 the Australian Federal Government introduced a reform package with significant results expected over four years.

According to the Australian and New Zealand Organ Donor Registry (ANZOD) there were 337 donors in 2011 whose organs and tissues were donated to 1001 recipients.

Unfortunately, in the past year, organ donor rates have plateaued and donor numbers are now in decline.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked Australia 24th in the world last year.

In 2004 102 children died in Australia that weren’t organ donors.

In the same year, young Zaidee Turner and her family had been registered organ donors for over 5 years. A blood vessel burst in her brain causing her to suddenly die.

As a registered organ donor, Zaidee became one of the youngest Australians to donate her organs and tissues at just 7 years old.

Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation, partnered with DonateLife, was developed by Zaidee’s parents Kim and Allan Turner in an effort to raise national awareness of organ and tissue donation.

“Today the foundation is at the forefront of educating families about the need for more people to donate at the end of life.” – Zaidee’s dad, Allan Turner

Zaidee’s rainbow shoelaces have become a symbol of hope across Australia for those people on the transplant waiting lists, and are worn proudly by sporting heroes.

“Australia has one of the lowest donation rates in the developed world.” – DonateLife.

In Australia the family will always be asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased for the transplant donation to proceed. Unfortunately today only 60% of families give consent for organ and tissue donation to go ahead.

Unlike any other organ, humans can survive with just one kidney, however the official processes that possible donors must go through before donating their kidney is extremely taxing and time consuming.

If an individual’s family is not eligible to donate, whether it is due to disease or poor kidney function, the individual will be placed on the waiting list which on average can take anywhere between 6 months to 4 years.

In April 2000 at the age of nine Tate Goldsmith was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome FSGS.  The disease rapidly progressed and by October of 2001 she had started dialysis for renal failure.

Thankfully Tate was able to receive her Mum’s kidney via transplant in November 2002.

Dad’s kidney function wasn’t the best so if Mum couldn’t donate I would have had to go onto the waiting list which can really be a luck of the draw.” 

“Without a transplant I would require hospitalization 3 times a week for a minimum of 5 hours, and I wouldn’t be able to really drink anything as I’d have a fluid restriction of around 1 litre per day. It doesnt sound much but that includes ice cream, jelly, soup, anything with liquid. Also – I wouldn’t be able to eat a large majority of foods because my body wouldn’t be able to excrete potassium – no potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate, bananas…”

“If more people donate it really just gives them the opportunity to have a greater quality of life that cannot be achieved if someone has organ failure. I don’t think that anyone could undersand until the individual or someone immediate to them was in the situation.”

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There are currently around 1600 people on the organ donation waiting list.

Sadly, hundreds die waiting.

“The most important thing that helps a family’s decision is knowing the wishes of their loved one…” according to Jo Harrison, a spokesperson for DonateLife Victoria. “43% of Australian’s do not know or are unsure of their loved ones wishes.”

Will Chapman is suffering with progressive heart and lung failure at just nineteen years old. Without a heart and double lung transplant Will won’t make Christmas.

With the help from friends and family Will has produced a series of videos to urge more people to register and share their organ donation wishes.

Released in September 2012 Will’s Don’t Bury Me campaign highlights the dire need for change in order to save the lives of those on the waiting lists.

Below is a shortened version of Will’s video. For the full movie ‘A Gracious Gift‘ please go here.

To register as an organ donor please visit: Medicare Australia

For more information about organ donation please visit: DonateLife