Media Releases and Communiques
Transplant donors' wishes to prevail
Australian Governments have agreed to new arrangements to help ensure that people who register to donate their organs after death will have their wishes respected.
28 January 2005
Joint CommuniqueAustralian Governments today agreed to new arrangements to help ensure that people who register to donate their organs after death will have their wishes respected.
At today’s Australian Health Ministers Conference (AHMC), Ministers received a report from a working group of senior officials and organ and tissue sector representatives confirming that, under existing laws, Australian adults can legally express their consent to donate their organs and tissues after death without the need for family consent.
Families will, of course, continue to be consulted at the time a donation is actually contemplated. Under the new arrangements to be introduced from July 2005, the Australian Government will operate the Australian Organ Donor Register as the single national register of consent. States and territories will introduce clinical guidelines so that, upon a death in which organ donation is feasible, clinicians will routinely consult the Register. If an individual’s legally valid consent has been recorded on the Register, the family will be advised and asked if the individual is known to have changed his or her mind since registering. If an individual’s consent has not been recorded, consent from the family will still need to be sought.
The aim is to ensure that the known wishes of the deceased, whether consenting or objecting, are respected and followed through. The clinical guidelines also provide that if families maintain sincerely held objections even in the face of an individual’s legally recorded consent, organ donation will not proceed.
Individuals will be encouraged to talk to their families before recording their consent or objection to organ donation on the Australian Organ Donor Register. Research shows that families are more likely to support organ and tissue donation if potential donors have discussed their wishes.
To ensure consent is legally valid, only people aged 18 years and over will be able to record their consent on the Australian Organ Donor Register. Registrations of intent will be recorded for people aged 16 and 17 years, but in these cases consent from families will still be needed.
The strengthening of the Australian Organ Donor Register to become a register of consent, and the introduction of clinical guidelines ensuring the Register is routinely consulted, are a further positive step in helping to increase Australia’s organ and tissue donation and transplantation rates. The Australian Government will make further announcements about the strengthened Australian Organ Donor Register and how individuals can record their consent in coming months.
Media Contacts: Richard O’Leary, Media Advisor for NT Minister for Health Dr Peter Toyne (Chair) 0401 119 586
Kay McNiece, AHMC Media Liaison 0412 132 585
Ben Wilson, Media Advisor for NSW Minister for Health Morris Iemma 0407 966 083