Time to talk about organ donation is before a trauma

MORE than three quarters of Australians are willing to become organ donors, but with only 53% of us knowing the wishes of loved ones, not enough people are making their decisions known.

Central Queensland donation specialist nurse Jo Reoch said this statistic was the main barrier stopping people from becoming donors.

"It is really hard for (families) to make a decision if a person is not on the registry or the person hasn't had that conversation with them," Mrs Reoch said.

"Most organ donors have sudden unexpected deaths - road trauma, stroke. That's tragic enough for families to go through, and they can't process anything else."

Mrs Reoch said a lack of awareness stopped people from giving the okay.

"That's why we want people to talk about it and for people to have the conversation in the lounge room, where they are comfortable."

According to the Organ and Tissue Authority, every donor has the potential to save 10 lives.

Last year, 1122 people received transplants from just 391 donors - the highest number since national records began.

But with 1500 people on the organ transplant list and less than 1% of people dying in hospital in the specific circumstances where organ donation is possible, people are urged to consider registering as a donor, and also discussing it with their families.

To register visit, phone 1800 777 203 or visit a Medicare Service Centre. You must be at least 16-years-old to register.

SECOND CHANCE: Shane Brown is grateful for the kidney and double lung transplants that saved his life.
SECOND CHANCE: Shane Brown is grateful for the kidney and double lung transplants that saved his life. Mike Richards GLATRAN

Organ donors give Shane more chances at long life

AS an 18-year-old needing a double lung transplant, Shane Brown was given a second chance at life thanks to an organ donor.

Being so young at the time, Mr Brown said he had been nervous at first but soon came to realise how lucky he was.

"I saw it as a second opportunity. But after a while, it kind of hit me that somebody lost a loved one so that I could have an extra chance to keep living.

"I try everyday to keep going as best I can for their gift. Seventeen years later I'm still here."

Suffering from cystic fibrosis, Mr Brown caught a life threatening lung infection soon after finishing Year 12.

"Just the way my lungs were deteriorating, I wasn't going to make the Christmas and New Year," he said.

"It puts a lot of perspective into an 18-year-old fellow's life when you realise your health is that bad."

His second lease of life was threatened again 12 years later when the medication from the lung transplant and complications with his diabetes caused his kidneys to fail.

This time, his mother agreed to be a live donor and donate one of her kidneys.

Five years on and living a relatively healthy and normal life, Mr Brown knows the value of how registering as an organ donor can save someone's life.

"People like myself, we know how sad it is to receive someone's organs and it is a hard decision to make on the spot," he said.

"You need to really sit down with your family and talk about it because it can prepare them, at least, for the shock.

"It's not a perfect scenario, but if you can help someone and feel better in yourself, that you are donating your deceased loved one's organs so that someone can have a better quality of life, I am pretty sure people would be happy that their loved ones are still living on in that way."

Topics:  health organ donation transplant

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