The expensive information campaigns and the concerted efforts of advocates have not worked as well as hoped. In the past five years the Federal Government has spent $200 million trying to lift Australia’s organ donation rate.

Organ donation is a gift you won't regret giving…

The focus has been on encouraging people who have nominated to be donors to discuss it with their families, so when the unthinkable happens relatives are comfortable fulfilling their loved-ones’ wish to give up their organs.

But in 2012, just 17 more Australians donated their organs than the year before. Just 17 more people.

According to The Australian:

There were 1052 transplant recipients in 2012 from 354 donors, an increase of four and five per cent, respectively, on 2011, figures released on Tuesday showed. This translated to 15.6 donors per million population (dpmp), a slight increase on 2011 but still shy of the Organ and Tissue Authority’s 16.3 dpmp 2012 target. The authority, established by the federal government in 2009, hopes to lift Australian donor rates up to a maximum of 25 dpmp by 2015.


Of 76,600 people who died in Australian hospitals last year, only 790 were in intensive care. Donations were requested from 710 of those and the families of 410 people consented, resulting in 354 eligible donors.

All the talk this morning has centered on training for specialist hospital staff to better manage families through the process, and even broadening the criteria of eligible donors to hospital-wide deaths, not just those in intensive care.

But what about removing the family’s right to veto their relative’s clearly stated and registered intention to be an organ donor?

It’s a tricky topic, surrounded by a lot of misinformation. Every year when we discuss this topic during Organ Donor Awareness Week I hear people on the radio talking about the fear of relatives being left untreated to die by doctors keen for them to be donors. It’s rubbish.

Their willingness to ignore the clearly stated wishes of their relatives is justified by unfounded fears.

Eleven years and two days ago my brother Frank became an organ donor after suffering a catastrophic brain hemorrhage.

It was a comforting decision for us to make because we knew Frank’s intentions. We had all talked about it years before having to have the conversation in the intensive care waiting room at Prince of Wales.

None of us has ever regretted it.

And this was years before the introduction of the National Organ Donor Registry and the multi-million dollar awareness campaigns.

It might sound drastic, to take the veto power away from grieving relatives. But surely the point of the Organ Donor Registry is to make sure those who wish to donate can make the decision for themselves while they’re still here to make it.

You can sign up to be an organ donor here, but if you do, please tell your family.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDT.

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    • Al says:

      10:56am | 22/01/13

      “Should we scrap the family veto on organ donation?”
      Definately yes.
      It should be up to the owner of the body as to what occurs with it after they die, if they have made a clear decleration that they want their organs donated then that should be it.
      The family of the deceased should respect their wishes, and if they don’t suck it up as it wasn’t their choice to make in life nor should it be in death.
      The only time family should be involved in making this decision are:
      - discussions prior to death if the inidvidual chooses too; or
      - where the individual has made no clear decleration of their desire concerning organ donation.

    • E says:

      11:16am | 22/01/13

      Couldn’t have said it better myself Al

    • Colin says:

      12:14pm | 22/01/13

      “Should we scrap the family veto on organ donation?”

      How about you leave me alone in my grief, and that you are never going to damned-well touch my loved one’s organs because they are now gone and I don’t care ONE JOT about ‘saving’ someone else’s life by desecrating their body, OK?

      Now, isn’t THAT what is the reality for the recently bereaved? How do you think in any way shape or form that this can ever possibly be a ‘Rational’ argument..?

      @ Al

      ““Should we scrap the family veto on organ donation?”
      Definately yes.”

      I would have afforded your argument with at least a modicum of credence if it wasn’t for your spelling of ‘Definitely’; it isn’t actually possible to formulate a rational and well-thought out premise if you possess such a lazy using and updating of your own vocabulary not to realise -despite the many, many protestations to the contrary - that it is NOT spelled, ‘Definately’..!

    • Miss Demeanor says:

      12:23pm | 22/01/13

      Hear, hear! I know several people who have said they won’t bother to sign up as donors because their families made it clear they would veto it anyway. So you can discuss it with your family until the cows come home but if they have the power of veto, pffttt…....

    • Al says:

      12:39pm | 22/01/13

      Colin - so you dismiss an entire argument based on a spelling mistake?
      Don’t you think it would be a better use of your time to consider the argument and simply overlook obvious spelling errors.
      If it actualy made the point difficult to interpret then I could agree with you.
      BTW - I have never been good at spelling, but that never stopped me getting very good marks in all the science subjects I studied.

    • Paul says:

      12:51pm | 22/01/13

      @ Al
      I’m with you 100%.  While I love my family members MY clearly stated decision on what should happen to MY body should not be overruled by ANYONE ELSE upon my death.

      @ Colin
      “How about you leave me alone in my grief, and that you are never going to damned-well touch my loved one’s organs because they are now gone and I don’t care ONE JOT about ‘saving’ someone else’s life by desecrating their body, OK?”

      If you loved them so much then respect their damned wishes!  Your emotional response is EXACTLY why the rules should be changed.

      “I would have afforded your argument with at least a modicum of credence if it wasn’t for your spelling…”

      Are you serious?  Your statement says alot about who you are as a person and it isn’t complimentary.  The term wanker comes to mind.

    • bobagorof says:

      01:23pm | 22/01/13

      It’s ok Colin, I’m a recovering grammar-holic too.  Whenever I feel myself slipping, I take a deep breath and remember that one time I posted with a typo.

      Hope you discuss your wishes before you have a hemorrhage from getting over excited.

    • Colin says:

      01:32pm | 22/01/13

      @ Al

      “Colin - so you dismiss an entire argument based on a spelling mistake?”

      No, I told you why it effectively negated your argument. But, if it aids your comprehension, I will repeat it:

      “ isn’t actually possible to formulate a rational and well-thought out premise if you possess such a lazy using and updating of your own vocabulary ...”

      Oh, and as for, “...I have never been good at spelling, but that never stopped me getting very good marks in all the science subjects I studied…” Well, be that as it may, but you sure as heck wouldn’t get a job doing Science in my department with such atrocious spelling.

      @ Paul

      “The term wanker comes to mind”

      Really? Because I (and every other person with at least a modicum of education) am sick and tired of continuously and perennially having to put up with people who never learn how to spell a word so often used and so intrinsic to our language? That i rail against what is, in fact, a clear indication of lazy argument when a word that is so often corrected still remains incorrectly spelled?

      And - as a corollary - because of such lax adherence to proper argument and the use of a wonderful tool that language is in affording us a medium to express all and sundry emotions and ideas replete with every nuance appertaining thereto, you still then do not even fathom that your throwing the word, ‘Wanker’ at me is a complete indictment of your very own lack of that skill, then you too do not have the capacity for the correct assembling of a logical argument either.

    • Greg says:

      01:39pm | 22/01/13

      The trouble with the opt-out system is that many people who don’t want to be organ donors become so just because they didn’t notice that they had to tick a box on their driver’s licence renewal.

      So that person’s family should have a veto.

      If the person has intentionally opted-in, then they probably shouldn’t.

    • Al says:

      02:03pm | 22/01/13

      Colin - I am still confused by your insistence that a spelling error, despite not making it difficult to interpret what it was meant to say, ‘effectively negated my argument’.
      What about the argument was negated by that little spelling error?
      Did it make it difficult to comprehend the intended meaning?
      I suppose it would not have negated the argument if I copied it into a word document, ran spellcheck and then copied it back in and that would mean I wouldn’t be lazy right?
      (gee, I didn’t get another spelling mistake did I!)

    • Ellie says:

      02:07pm | 22/01/13

      Colin, have you considered that by removing the family’s VETO right, it also removes the pressure on grieving families to make a decision? Asking people going through such a distressing and life changing event to make a very important and irreversible decision is only going to add to their distress and make it more likely that they take the easier, less consequence option of refusing. Wouldn’t it be so much easier on those left behind if the doctor could simply inform them that their loved one had signed on to the registry to make the ultimate gift, and that they could be reassured that at least something positive may come of this tragedy? No need for a decision, no need for guilt or additional trauma, just the information about their loved ones personal wishes and choices in life.

    • Al says:

      02:12pm | 22/01/13

      Colin, just to satisfy you hows this?
      “Should we scrap the family veto on organ donation?”
      Definitely yes.
      It should be up to the owner of the body as to what occurs with it after they die, if they have made a clear declaration that they want their organs donated then that should be it.
      The family of the deceased should respect their wishes, and if they don’t suck it up as it wasn’t their choice to make in life nor should it be in death.
      The only time family should be involved in making this decision are;
      - discussions prior to death if the individual chooses too; or
      - where the individual has made no clear declaration of their desire concerning organ donation.
      (No spelling errors now.)

    • bobagorof says:

      02:26pm | 22/01/13

      “That i rail against what is, in fact, a clear indication of lazy argument when a word that is so often corrected still remains incorrectly spelled? “

      I believe that ‘i’ should be ‘I’.
      What does this say about your argument?
      Thought so.

    • Major says:

      02:34pm | 22/01/13

      @ Colin. Hang on a second! Is that a lower case i used where an upper case I should be. Let’s check…

      “That i rail against what is, in fact, a clear indication of lazy argument when a word that is so often corrected still remains incorrectly spelled?”

      I think it is! That’s it - Colin’s arguments are hereby dismissed! As it is written, it shall be so!

    • Kev says:

      02:38pm | 22/01/13

      Colin, I would dare say, that if the moment came where an organ donation from another would in fact save a loved one, then your view on the topic would be very different indeed?
      I am a doner, and it honestly gives me some comfort that my passing may ultimately bring an improvement of life to someone who is in suffering. Just as I hope that if I ever need it, the science will be available to myself, or a loved one. Your comes across as a very selfish and sad viewpoint, Colin.
      Also I suggest attending some stress management classes, getting so worked up over typo…

    • Trevor says:

      03:07pm | 22/01/13


      “ sure as heck wouldn’t get a job doing Science in my department with such atrocious spelling.”

      Doing Science? And you have the nerve to railroad someone over a simple spelling mistake? And what department would that be- the Department of Pedantic Arseclowns?

    • Nostromo says:

      03:21pm | 22/01/13

      More so, blood donation should be compulsory, as well as everyone being an automatic organ donor (especially motorbike riders who are well known as ‘mobile organ donors’ smile. I’d even go so far as to suggest everyone’s fingerprints & DNA should be on record from early adulthood, HOWEVER, this would not excuse the crown/prosecution from due process, in fact it should make the burden of proof much more stringent.

    • Colin says:

      03:25pm | 22/01/13

      @ bobagrof
      @ Trevor
      @ Major

      Endemic errors of spelling (no, not ‘typos’) are an indication of a lack of capacity to absorb facts, understand etymology or grasp the basics of discourse.

      But, oh dear; because you can’t fathom a particular concept or follow an argument, guys, does that also mean that your throw rocks at thunderstorms and shout at shadows..?

      Look, if you all argue like pre-industrial humans then I can not be held responsible for pointing out your own proclivities - even if you can no more perceive of their existence than can a flower know of the orbit of Saturn…

    • Matt says:

      03:36pm | 22/01/13

      Competely agree, there should be no argument or discussion on this topic.
      If the person who has died/been fatally injured and has consented to their parts being harvested/donated to help others live, then the family shouldn’t get a say and should accept and go with the request of the person.

    • Al says:

      04:17pm | 22/01/13

      Colin - I just can’t help it but you do realise that by your definitions you should be ignoring many of the pioneers of Modern Science as more than 1 of them had huge issues with spelling including Albert Einstein.
      They were extraordinary in their speciality, but language and grammer wasn’t it.

    • Trevor says:

      04:24pm | 22/01/13

      “Look, if you all argue like pre-industrial humans then I can not be held responsible for pointing out your own proclivities…”

      I’ll take that as a compliment Col. Pre-industrial humans made the best arguments. Think Plato, Socrates, Aurellius, Cicero. They invented the the art of argument and brought it to heights not seen since!

      So ta. (And I’ve heard that last line of yours somewhere before…not sure where though)...

    • JC says:

      04:43pm | 22/01/13

      Yet when Colin or his kin needs a kidney transplant he’ll gladly accept it. People who tick no or have a completely “Colin” view on the subject should not be allowed to have access to donated organs. Thats fair isn’t it Colin?

    • Colin says:

      04:56pm | 22/01/13

      @ Al

      Einstein was a case in point - absolutely useless for anything that I would employ him to do.

      @ Trevor

      “Think Plato, Socrates, Aurellius (sic), Cicero. “

      Gee, Trev, looong stretch for you to associate yourself with THAT crowd…But, hey, delusion is delusion is delusion…

      “(And I’ve heard that last line of yours somewhere before…not sure where though)... “

      Well probably because I have used something similar before or…gasp…are you trying to diss my like those others who accuse me of everything from Delusions of Grandeur to plagiarism..?!?

      Nice work, if you can get it grin

    • Trevor says:

      06:23pm | 22/01/13

      Read back Colin. You are the one who ‘associated me with that crowd’. But then again comprehension is never the strong suit of the pedant.

    • Michael says:

      10:57am | 22/01/13

      I’ve always felt we should have an opt-out system rather than an opt-in system like Spain. Sure if you have genuine religious (or otherwise) reasons against organ donation, you should have the convictions to fill out some paperwork and get out of doing it. A lot of organs are missed because people are too lazy or don’t know how to make their wishes known.

    • Joel M-J says:

      11:06am | 22/01/13

      Fantastic idea, couldn’t agree more.

    • Wen says:

      11:17am | 22/01/13

      100% agree with this!

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      11:36am | 22/01/13

      “Sure if you have genuine religious”

      Ahh, religion.

      “Sorry mate, the imaginary guy in the sky says you can’t have my organs.  Bad luck for you!  Guess we both get to die!”

    • Bolverk says:

      11:57am | 22/01/13

      This is such a simple solution to a serious, and utterly unnecessary problem. I do not understand why it hasn’t happened.

    • MoBo says:

      12:05pm | 22/01/13

      Agree 100% - great idea!

    • Scott says:

      12:52pm | 22/01/13

      Tim the TOOL - well named.

    • Ruby says:

      01:11pm | 22/01/13

      I disagree. When someone dies, they still own their body and even if they don’t need it anymore, society has no right to take parts of it. Our current system is fine- sign up if you want to donate your organs. However, having done so, the family should respect this wish, although, as some commentators have pointed out, it can be pretty gruesome and a grey-feeling area.
      We need to stop treating the human body like a mechanical composition with spare parts, however. People should be educated on how to look after their organs and how they may be damaging their (unborn and born) children’s organs. There is very little awareness out there and a great deal of carelessness, although some people and all children genuinely are victims. Enforcing organ donation is not the way - the way is to encourage people to take great care of their organs and those of their offspring and thus reduce preventable organ transplants.

    • marc says:

      01:15pm | 22/01/13

      Whilst organ donation is a definite benefit, I do not grant a government to decide that by default they have rights over my body under any circumstances.  You should not have to opt-out - your body is your body and the assumption should not be that it is up for grabs as soon as you perish.

      The real solution to the donation issue is not to convince people to donate, but rather for science to actively grow the required replacement organs; we are not so far away from this as some people imagine.

    • Princess says:

      01:56pm | 22/01/13

      That has always been my opinion.

    • Moses Hickory says:

      03:54pm | 22/01/13

      Marc and Ruby - When you die you don’t own your body anymore. You know why? Because you’re dead. Just like you don’t own your house or your car anymore. Essentially your body becomes worm food. To not want to help another human being and the prevent the grief that will be felt by their family and friends is just plain selfish.

    • Amanda says:

      04:04pm | 22/01/13

      Ruby, organs aren’t just needed for people who take bad care of themselves.  Accidents also happen, people are born with issues etc etc.  Also, just because a parent did the wrong thing by their unborn baby, that child should miss out on organ donations?  I don’t think so. 

      I agree, there should be an opt out option rather than an opt in.  You don’t need your “spare parts” when you’re gone.

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      04:17pm | 22/01/13

      “Tim the TOOL - well named. “

      I always know I’m on the right path when the only retort is an ad hominem. 

      The body IS a machine, like it or not.  That’s why we can pull bits out of one and stick it in another.  I hope you all would have the same opinion that someone should be allowed to let their organs rot in the ground, rather than save the life of someone you loved, just because of silly beliefs.  That is what is wrong with religion and this “oh, but my fuzzy feelings and beliefs” etc…the fact that you would rather see someone needlessly die than break the fantasy of your delusions.

      Just despicable.

    • Grandma says:

      10:59am | 22/01/13

      I know that it is my children’s wish to donate their organs should something happen. When we first discussed it, one said if you don’t donate my organs I’ll come back and haunt you!.
      My organs are unsuitable for donation, I have hepatitis C compliments of a blood transfusion, and bronchiectiasis among other things, needless to say I am against compulsory donation. I would hate to pass the suffering on to some other individual.

    • Al says:

      11:11am | 22/01/13

      You do realise that even if you did say you wish to donate the organs are still subject to screening before being transplanted nowdays (same as donated blood)?

    • Rose says:

      11:32am | 22/01/13

      I have had the discussion with all of my children and my husband. We all agreed that the wishes of the dying member take precedence over everybody else. In our case it’s simple I suppose, we have all agreed to organ transplants for ourselves,so it’s highly unlikely that any of us would try to veto any one else’s decision.

    • Denise says:

      11:51am | 22/01/13

      Compulsary donation as you put it does not mean that if any person is declared brain dead that their organs MUST be transplanted! There is a very stringent review process of organs prior to being identified as suitable for transplantation. In fact an organ can be deemed Not Viable right up until teh operation commences!

    • Dan says:

      11:51am | 22/01/13

      Making it an opt-out system wouldn’t suddenly make it so that organ donors (and individual organs) won’t have to be disease and suitability screened.

    • Rose says:

      03:52pm | 22/01/13

      I’m not convinced that we should have compulsory opt-in or opt-out systems. I am however absolutely convinced that when a person makes a decision known as to what they want to happen to their organs after death then that is absolutely what should happen, that no family member(s) can over ride their decision!!

    • Greg says:

      11:03am | 22/01/13

      I am more concerned about the inability for a donor to veto a donation.

      It’s not just that organ donation is being forced upon people by the “opt-out” processes. In some countries organs have been harvested from prisoners after capital punishment has been performed.

      Once a black market has been established for harvested organs, then there are all sorts of motivations for illegal and unethical behaviour.

    • Al says:

      11:21am | 22/01/13

      Greg - So your position against it is that some criminal somewhere may act in an illegal manner, then find a doctor willing to perform the transplant using illegaly obtained materials.
      Based on that nobody should be able to opt in or out, either way you would still have the possibility for a black market and criminals acting as criminals.
      BTW: Isn’t it a little difficult to veto a donation once your dead? If it is an opt-out system then you can veto the donation before you died by filling in the paperwork.

    • RM says:

      11:45am | 22/01/13

      While I appreciate your point, we could better spend the money currently being used on failed marketing campaigns for people to ‘opt in’  to strictly monitor and regulate organ donations so a black market would have great difficulty in going undetected.  The very fact that there will be more organs due to the opt out system undermines the need for a black market.  We don’t have capital punishment in this country so that is a moot point.

    • Gregg says:

      12:11pm | 22/01/13

      Why would you be concerned about the inability for a donor to veto the donation for once you’re dead, that’s it and as with Tory’s bro, some good was able to come from an unwanted situation and the family felt comfortable with that.
      Yep, every so often we hear of organ harvesting stories and that sort of thing could occur whether or not you had opted out.
      If executed prisoners had offered themselves to be donors and organs were suitable, why not? and it might make them feel some happiness in leaving this world.

      The more people that are donors and more organs available, then there is less likely to be a black market or at least there would be less demand via a black market.

    • Greg says:

      01:34pm | 22/01/13

      Take the situation in China, where organs are harvested from convicted criminals (with or without their consent) after a death sentence has been carried out.

      Some people don’t seem to have recognised some obvious risks with a policy like this, so I will spell it out.

      There will be an incentive for rich and/or powerful people in need of an organ donation to arrange for a compatible person to be found guilty of something. Or maybe just not be too interested in the appeal of an innocent person. Or maybe just not be too interested in getting them a cure if they get sick. Or maybe just arranging for an “accident” to happen.

      An opt-in policy largely eliminates any incentive to take organs from people prematurely, whereas if everybody is opted-in by default, unless the specifically take action to opt-out, then any compatible person becomes a potential source of a premature organ “donation”.

      If people willingly and knowingly opt-in, then there is no problem.

    • Moses Hickory says:

      05:12pm | 22/01/13

      It’s not just that organ donation is being forced upon people by the “opt-out” processes.

      You do understand what opt-out means? It mean you have a choice to… wait for it…. Opt out. It’s not being forced on someone if they can opt out now is it. As for the conspiracy theory. All the person would have to do to avoid being murdered by the evil oligarch is to opt out of donating their organs…

    • Maree says:

      11:10am | 22/01/13

      I was once an organ donation counsellor, it was very hard asking devastated relatives to think about the wishes of their dying family member at a time when they are coming to terms with death at the door. Many potential donors are not yet ‘technically’ dead when organs are harvested but are being kept alive by modern machinery. Very hard to say last goodbyes when the chest is still rising and falling and the skin still warm as the loved one is taken away for surgery to remove organs.

    • Bea Riel says:

      01:03pm | 22/01/13

      Wow, I can’t begin to imagine how you performed that role.  It must be tremendously difficult for grieving relatives to let go of their loved ones - by human nature many of us are still clinging to that one grain of hope that it has all been a terrible mistake and once the life support is switched off, loved one will miraculously awaken.  As the parent of a small child who may some day need a liver transplant due to a congenital condition, I encourage people to become donors and believe that if it were their will to donate then as difficult as it may be, the family should respect their wishes.  Then again, it’s easy to state what you would do in a situation, but difficult to understand what it would actually be like.

    • Kate says:

      04:20pm | 22/01/13

      I sadly had to say goodbye to a friend last year after a tragic accident, and it was exactly as Maree described. You see them there, still warm, waiting for them to wake up and be how they were the day before.

      Thankfully her family had the discussion about organ donation a few weeks prior, and had no hesitation in respecting her wishes. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for them to agree to donation within just a few hours of hearing that their daughter was brain dead.

      Her organs helped six people. I found it incredibly comforting that her death was not a waste. If you are struggling to decide what to do, I suggest reading some of the stories from families of donors and donor recipients in the ‘Book of Life’ on the Donate Life website. BYO tissues.

    • Jenny says:

      06:26pm | 22/01/13

      I lost my father 10 years ago and made the decision to donate his organs against the family’s wishes. My father needed a heart and lung transplant, but my family were not thinking rationally. I was in shock (I fainted after finding him deceased) and thankfully signed the papers in a daze. It caused a rift in the family (mainly because of my feelings of guilt at the desecration of the body).
      In the end it was the only good thing to come from his death; 2 people regained their sight.
      I could have done without the nurse telling me exactly what would be done to the body, though. I sat through the entire funeral thinking about what had been done to his body.
      Had we had a system where, after him signing off on donation, the organs were harvested, the whole thing would have been easier to deal with.

    • Steven Durrington says:

      11:12am | 22/01/13

      Organ donors are as scarce as hens’ teeth for a number of reasons. Not only do we need a larger population of willing donors, but the donors have to be relatively healthy but die under the right circumstances, a situation which reduces the available organs. Donors have to essentially become brain dead from a head trauma or ruptured aneurysm or some other condition which causes brain death, but their body remain ventilated and oxygenated long enough to make it to a major hospital with their organs still functioning. Dying of a heart attack is no good for donations, as blood needs to be circulated to keep the organs viable. Various cancers, metabolic disorders, and infective diseases like hepatitis or HIV also exclude people from donating. Alcoholic cirrhosis ruins livers. Smoking can damage hearts, eyes and lungs. Major trauma or blood loss can injure organs, so many car accident victims aren’t suitable as donors.

      Then, once someone is considered a viable donor and their family has consented, there are issues with organs being the right blood type, right tissue type and even the appropriate physical size to be able to be located. Complications like kidneys having more than 1 renal artery can preclude an organ from being used.

      So, the chances of a donor becoming deceased and actually able to donate to the right people are very small. That’s why there’s a many potential donors but only a thousand recipients out of the many thousands more that desperately need an organ. Therefore, we really should look at options to increase organ donation rates.

      Taking away veto power from families is probably a step too far, given the emotive nature of the situation. However, an “Opt-Out” system would probably be a happy middle ground. Consider all potential donors as donors, unless the family opts out. Psychologically, it’s probably a little easier for the decision to donate to be the default position and allow families to opt out for personal reasons, rather than have medical staff approach grieving families with a time sensitive request to voluntarily opt-into a donor system that they may not have considered before. Making donation the default option would generate discussion and public awareness and increase donation rates. It would also have the added bonus of allowing unidentified cadavers to be used for donation in cases where family consent can’t be gained in time.

      We do need to do everything we reasonable can to increase donation rates. I work in medicine and have seen many people die whilst waiting for donations. But the recipients of organs have their lives dramatically changed for the best. Please do consider donating your organs - they could save as many as 10 people. My wife, my two kids and I are all donors, and if any of us become eligible to give the gift of life, there will be no hesitation from any of us.

    • Dan says:

      11:55am | 22/01/13

      Very well said, Steve.  Kinda wishing for a FB-style ‘like’ system right now smile

    • NSS says:

      12:38pm | 22/01/13

      Steven, you say “Taking away veto power from families is probably a step too far, given the emotive nature of the situation. However, an “Opt-Out” system would probably be a happy middle ground.”  I disagree with the last sentence. It is most definitely an “emotive situation”. You are absolutely correct why the number of donors is so few, however in such circumstances, putting the procedures which occur with a potential donor (ie life support) into practice without giving the family a choice as to how their loved one is treated when they are brain dead, is just as traumatic as asking for donations to be made. 

      Asking families to opt out, when they are not thinking straight, as no-one is in such circumstances, they may feel obliged to agree to a procedure for which the patient has already been prepared. They may wish for their love one to die without machines, and are being put into a position where they now have to give an objection, rather than an assent in a high-pressure situation. Neither asking for consent, nor asking for non-consent is “a happy middle ground.”

    • Steven Durrington says:

      02:52pm | 22/01/13

      NSS - I guess you don’t work in medicine. I appreciate your sentiments, but perhaps need to correct you on a couple of things. Medical staff don’t ask relatives for permission to put people on life support purely to salvage organs. If someone is brought to an emergency department, the focus is on saving lives. The order of things is to try to resuscitate and stabilise with whatever means available including advanced life support, then diagnose and treat the causative agent if at all possible, and - if indicated - do brain death testing to assess if the patient is unrecoverable and thus a potential organ donor.

      In most instances, by the time the family is asked to confirm the person’s wishes to be a donor, or to broach the subject if their donor status is unknown, the patient is already on machines but far gone.

      Asking for organs is not easy. It’s obviously a sensitive and emotive issue for all concerned. But you need to remember that there is often a finite time before organs start shutting down after brain death and that several people’s lives are hanging in the balance, dependant on if they receive an organ or not. Yes, families are grieving and yes, it can be viewed by some as insensitive to ask them to donate organs, but it’s morally more reprehensible not to ask and to allow several other people to possibly die as a result.

    • NSS says:

      04:56pm | 22/01/13

      Actually I did work in medicine Steven, and I know the scenario you describe is not always the case. Not all potential donors come directly from A&E and not all potential donors are on life-support UNLESS they have been assessed as such.

      Please understand my point of view here. I am not anti- donation, far from it. However, I do believe that an opt -out system is at least as bad as an opt-in one when it comes to the grief and horror that some families face at the prospect. I believe since they must survive the patient and live with their grief that their rights are paramount, even if it means the donors wishes are not carried out.

      I understand your attitude, however, please do not think that an opt-out system will change the grief situation for families one iota, and may potentially be extremely shocking for some.

    • Lachlan says:

      11:16am | 22/01/13

      I’d happily donate my organs if I knew they were truly going to someone in need, ie a child with their whole life ahead of them and not some elderly citizen with only a few years left on the clock or an alcoholic or drugg addict who chose to abuse their body.
      I think the biggest reason why people donate, is the lack of transparency as to who their organs will actually go to. Perhaps an extra campaign to follow the opt-it/opt-out , would be the selection criteria. Afterall, they are your organs

    • HC says:

      12:05pm | 22/01/13

      You’re dead, why would you care?  Doctors have a responsibility to provide healthcare regardless of the reasons why a person requires it.  They’re not there to mete out justice.  An old fart or someone who abuses their body to the point of destruction is just as worthy in a doctor’s eyes as a kid, afterall unless you’re omniscient (which you’re not) then you can not know which of the 3 is going to contribute more in the future.

    • scott says:

      12:06pm | 22/01/13

      What gives you the right to determine who does and does not deserve treatment?

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      12:16pm | 22/01/13

      “Afterall, they are your organs “

      “Were” your organs, the emphasis on the past tense.  You’ll be dead, I doubt it matters to you at that point what happens.

    • sunny says:

      12:23pm | 22/01/13

      Lachlan - I’ve seen a lot of micromanagers, but geez trying to micromanage your own organ donation has got to be the very apex of micromanagement!

      FYI organs have a very limited shelf life and I think there are compatibility factors at play, so doctors only have limited options and limited time to find a beneficiary for them.

    • iMitchy says:

      01:03pm | 22/01/13

      The organ waiting list is already weighted and recipients are prioritised due to factors such as age and chance of recovery.

      However, I do think there should be grounds for denying certain patients access to your organs if an opt-out system was introduced. It might sound bad on the surface but I have my reasons.

      At the top of the list is: If you have opted out of organ donation citing religious or cultural reasons then you should not be entitled to receive an organ donation.

      Secondly, if you have ever been convicted of certain crimes (of a sexual or extremely violent nature, or of a crime against a child) then you should not be entitled to receive an organ donation.

      Any thoughts?

    • Lachlan says:

      01:08pm | 22/01/13

      3 comments all re-enforcing the fact as to why I would only ever donate my organs to family members.
      You realise the more self-righteous you become, the less inclined people sitting on the fence will be to opt to donate their organs.
      If you can’t distinguish between the rights of a child with cancer and a 40 year old heroin addict, then I can’t help you.

    • DoT says:

      01:11pm | 22/01/13

      Patients waiting on the recipient list are ranked for eligibility - factors like age and other medical conditions all make up their score which determines their place on the list. Children are always high on the list as their age gives them priority. Other factors like the patient getting a tattoo within a certain period of time completely exclude otherwise eligible recipients from the list until a waiting period is served where the necessary tests can be done to make sure the tattoo hasn’t left them with another health issue.

      Having said all of this, most people choose to be organ donors as an unselfish, unconditional act and aren’t picky about who they save. I am a very lucky organ recipient and thank my donor every day for the amazing life I am able to lead because of such an unselfish act.

      If you ever meet an organ recipient, don’t be afraid to ask them how it has imroved their life, as you will hear stories of someone who barely existed becasue of their illness - transforming into someone who could enjoy even the simple things in life once again.

    • Greg says:

      02:38pm | 22/01/13

      When I lived in Adelaide, over a decade ago now, I remember that there was a Labor Legislative Councillor (upper house state MP) who raised a question in parliament on behalf of a constituent (and I assume ALP member), who wanted to know if her potential organ donation could be made on the basis that no Liberal Party member could be a recipient!

      The relevant minister replied in the negative of course, but he looked suitably embarrassed by the question (he was an ALP MP too).

      But I suspected that somebody who felt that strongly about a potential recipient would probably just decide not to be a donor at all, which is a lose-lose scenario for everybody really.

      Why not let people decide who can receive their organs, especially if it increases the donation rate?

    • encee says:

      02:54pm | 22/01/13

      Lachlan donors have absolutely no say over who gets their organs. You either agree to donate or you don’t.

      As has already been pointed to you, the waiting list is prioritised as to who needs it most.

      I hate selfish, self-righteous people like you. You are what is wrong with the world.

    • Erin says:

      04:11pm | 22/01/13

      Lachlan, your organs will go to the next person on the list. Done and done.

      People are bumped off that list all the time for being too old or getting too sick whilst waiting for those transplants. People are prioritised in order of whether the match is a good one.

      And you’re dead, mate. You’re not going to miss them and you’re not going to care who gets them.

      So if my day comes up and there’s a chance that part of my liver *may* save a small child or *will* save an ex druggie, I say give it to the druggie. The the person who benefits from it the most should get it. The person who matches the best should get it - but ultimately I don’t give two shits. It’s not like I am going to miss them. So long as they don’t go to waste.

    • Nick says:

      11:17am | 22/01/13

      Yes, we should. If I want to donate organs when I die that’s my own choice and I’d hope my family respects that. However 5 minutes after losing a loved one is not the best time to make an informed and rational decision. That is the time to be upset and irrational - and that is completely understandable. I have no doubt some families would be quite upset at the time when told they have no say and it’s happening, but I’m sure later on most would be glad their loved ones last wish was respected.

    • iMitchy says:

      11:20am | 22/01/13

      I say introduce an opt-out system and keep the family veto right, all-in-all we would have more donors and no-one would feel that they have lost a freedom or been hard done by.

      It seems simple really.

    • JT says:

      11:22am | 22/01/13

      I personally think we should introduce a pay for organ system. You opt in and the government pays your next of kin a set fee per organ donated. Still allows people to opt out for X reason but gives a strong incentive for people to opt in.
      It would increase donor numbers and likely slow the growth of the black market organ trade. It is also less likely next of kin is going to say no to the organ donation when they are getting paid for it. Lastly the cost of such a system will likely balance out as less is spent on ongoing treatment.

    • Ben says:

      11:52am | 22/01/13

      Paying for organs will open a pandoras box of bad. A similar situation was created in part of America in the very early 1900’s - the murder rates mysteriously shot up until the scheme was stopped…

    • iMitchy says:

      12:06pm | 22/01/13

      I don’t see how this would slow the black market - it sounds like a catalyst to me. This would involve a lot of fraud but it could an would occur.

      It is currently illegal in Australia to accept money for anything from your body, beit blood, sperm, plasma, organs, tissue, children (adoption) etc. And with good reason - if there is no exchange of money then there is little potential for a black market, especially when doctors and surgery are required to fulfill the transaction.

    • JT says:

      12:32pm | 22/01/13


      WTF are you on about? Nothing you just wrote is true.

    • JT says:

      01:51pm | 22/01/13


      Your argument doesn’t make sense. The fact it is currently illegal and thus organs are so rare is the very reason there exists a growing black market right now.  You would remove the incentive of a black market if you make it legal to sell your organs to the govt, and thereby increase the supply.

      Every idiot knows if you want to create a black market, make something illegal.

    • iMitchy says:

      02:33pm | 22/01/13


      No mate, your arguement doesn’t make sense - there is no black market for free stuff! What is the incentive for harvesting people’s organs?

      Once there is money offered in return for organs then people will find a way to fraudulently benefit from it. I have never heard any suggestion of a black market for organs in Australia until just now and you are not backing up the claim.

      Think about it - how on earth could anyone run an illegal organ transplant operation in Australia? It beggars belief that you subscribe to this!

    • iMitchy says:

      03:22pm | 22/01/13

      Try this analogy:

      What if marijuana was made legal, but accepting money for it was made illegal? You are right to think that its supply would diminish which would by economic definition alter the supply/demand curve to make it a more valuable resource. However, the market just won’t exist because people won’t pay good money, illegally, for something that they can get for free, legally.

      Now obviously there are huge differences in the examples but this explains the economics behind it and doesn’t even have to go into the deterrent of the fact that black market organs require murder, the fact that the recipients of the organs can easily be tracked down due to medical records of diagnosis, telltale signs of organ transplant (scarring), possesion of anti-rejection drugs and atibiotics and a miraculous recovery from a terminal state with no record of said transplant occurring.

      And that’s assuming you can find a doctor and facility to illegally carry out the procedure.

    • sunny says:

      11:27am | 22/01/13

      I’ve ticked the organ donation option on my driver’s license form, and my whole family are like minded on the subject.

      They’re welcome to whatever they can salvage off of me, but I wouldn’t recommend the liver to anyone ..and if it’s the ticker, then the recipient will henceforth vote Labor!

    • Greg says:

      02:48pm | 22/01/13

      Well I suppose even your haemophilic bleeding heart will still be of more use than your atrophied brain, which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone.

    • sunny says:

      03:56pm | 22/01/13

      Greg - you’re making the classic Liberal mistake of thinking they’re all hard men, set apart. Most of them couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag and they all the bleed the same colour as the rest of us.

    • Greg says:

      06:23pm | 22/01/13

      Sunny - you’re making a classic mistake if you think that I am a Liberal Party supporter. The lesser of two evils is still evil after all.

      So what if ALP and Liberal voters bleed the same colour? So do lab rats. What’s your point?

    • Ben says:

      11:30am | 22/01/13

      Yes, and I am not sure why this hadn’t been changed much earlier.

    • Aimee says:

      11:33am | 22/01/13

      What about making organ donation automatic and you have to opt out rather than opt in! I think that is a way better idea

    • Julie says:

      11:34am | 22/01/13

      Scrap it! I am donating all my organs if anyone wants them when i die, but my husband hates the idea.

      My decision should be final - my body, my organs!

    • Gordon's feminine side says:

      12:58pm | 22/01/13

      I’m donating my breasts to Kochie!

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      11:35am | 22/01/13


      Well, that was easy.  Next?

    • modern primitive says:

      11:36am | 22/01/13

      Absolutely, I didn’t go to the effort of registering as a donor only to have my family veto it in the case of my untimely death. If I’ve indicated that I wish to donate all my organs then my family shouldn’t have a say at all.

    • Bruno says:

      11:36am | 22/01/13

      A persons body should be interred the way it was born. Take a fraction of the money that governments around the world squander on rubbish and put it to researching organ growth and harvesting, we can send a remote controlled car to mars, clone a sheep, reproduce what occurred during the big bang, weapons that will completely incinerate you yet we are no where close to solving organ replacement without taking it from the dead. It’s hard enough to live life with your dignity intact and now you want to strip us of that in death to. What next bury just a head, or here you go bury this finger.

    • EM says:

      12:57pm | 22/01/13

      Burial should be banned as well.  What a shocking waste of valuable land resources; and all for what? Just to pander to some dead person’s narcissistic desires for a stone memorial.  Cremate everyone.

    • Al says:

      01:00pm | 22/01/13

      Bruno - thats your personal opinion and you can have it that way.
      However, if a member of your family has a different opinion than you, what gives you the right to veto their decision as to how to treat their body after they die?
      Afterall you are basing it on your opinion and decision, not theirs.

    • Jasmine says:

      01:11pm | 22/01/13

      @Bruno, wow, insensitive much? I’m sure the Morcombes would have preferred the option to donate Daniel’s organs.

    • expat says:

      01:12pm | 22/01/13

      I agree with this, but the lefties don’t like the idea of genetic modification and I dare say that growing organs falls somewhere under that classification.

      It would be a hell of a lot more efficient to grow an organ specific to someones needs than to wait around for a suitable organ to become available.

    • iMitchy says:

      01:18pm | 22/01/13


      Two big contradictions - even if we grew the organs in a lab, then a recipient’s body woud not “be interred the way it was born”.

      And how does taking wilfully donated organs from one’s cadaver strip more dignity from you in death than having someone veto your decision to donate those organs to those in need?

      No-one is suggesting that organ donation become compulsory.

      There are far too many people who are more than willing to receive an organ yet are uncomfortable with the idea of donating their own should the worst happen. It doesn’t make any sense. At least with an opt-out system those who do not want to be involved at all would be highlighted.

      At this point in time, those who wouldn’t donate their own organs but would happily receive a donation have the excuse that they “never got around to registering”.

    • Jessica says:

      01:45pm | 22/01/13

      While I have not been involved in the donating or receiving of organs, I personally think there is a great deal of dignity in allowing a desperately ill stranger to have a second chance at a healthy life through the donating of organs. I have read stories about donor families who have said that they feel great comfort in knowing that their loved one’s heart is still beating and keeping another person alive.

      I hope that you or any person you care about never needs donor organs - if you are not prepared to donate yours you cannot, in good conscience, accept donations from someone who is.

    • bobagorof says:

      02:18pm | 22/01/13

      What do you think the organs will be harvested *from*?

    • Chris says:

      11:45am | 22/01/13

      Their was a drive at work the other week to get people signed up to be a blood donor. they gave us the questionnaire. i had to tick 3 of the boxes making me unable to give blood. and when i tried to back out, a loud mouth tried to shame me in to it. I stood up and at the top of my lungs said i have lived in england during the 80’s, had a tattoo done just last week and was gay and the bloody bastards didn’t want my blood.! then ran out crying fake tears. got the rest of the week off. due to stress. smile

      the same thing will happen if it’s opt out. someone will be against it for what ever reason, then an other person will come along tell them how bad they are for opting out and they will be shamed back in.

    • iMitchy says:

      01:50pm | 22/01/13

      There is no need to make one’s opting out public knowledge.

      I gave blood last week with work, it was my first time and of the ten people who signed up, five were unable to give blood due to their answers to the questionnaire and two of the remaining five found out at the centre that the countries they had recently visited required a four month waiting period before donating. Of the three of us left, the other two were regular donors. No-one batted an eye.

      For the record, I think the exclusion of gay males (who are not virgins) is a bit silly. Their blood can surely be screened.

    • Ally says:

      03:50pm | 22/01/13

      iMItchy - I believe the ban is on the basis that gay males statistically have a higher risk of HIV transmission and the Red Cross wants to keep the risks to the blood supply as low as possible. I suspect the additional screening required (which wouldn’t always be accurate) would cost more in both time and money.

    • Denise says:

      11:46am | 22/01/13

      I do agree that the decision a person makes prior to their death should not be able to be vetod by grieving family members. Being an organ recipient I also believe that we should have an opt out policy - once you are old enough to vote you are placed on the register as an organ donor unless you fill in the required papers to opt put of the program. Asutralian have a very relaxed “she’ll be right mate” attitude about most things that they are not passionate about. Whilst they will do what ever is necessary to NOT do something they don’t want, they don’t always get around to doing something they think they want to do. I have friends who constantly say “Oh I must do that” but in their busy lives they get distracted and forget. Finally to all those people who don;t agree with an opt out policy I hope you or a loved one is never waitign on the transplant list!

    • Ben says:

      11:46am | 22/01/13

      It’s not like you can donate your kidney to the highest bidder. You can only donate to a registered health organisation, who cannot pay for it. As long as that is the case there won’t be a black market.

      Providing financial or other incentives for organ donation is a dangerous path, as history has shown.

    • Jed says:

      11:46am | 22/01/13

      How about a system where you can only receive an organ donation if you yourself are signed up as a donor ? If your religion or beliefs prevent you from giving your organs when you die, it should also prevent you receiving them.

    • EM says:

      01:01pm | 22/01/13


    • Ian says:

      11:48am | 22/01/13

      Scrap the meddling from well intentioned members of the family. In fact, it should go the other way where people can opt out of a compulsory donor system

    • Matt says:

      11:49am | 22/01/13

      If you are going to start removing choice from people by “banning” the family veto, then why stop there. Ban people from opting their children out of immunization, ban people from smoking, there is obvious benefits in doing those things isn’t there?.....there’s lots of things where as a society we can see the benefits of, but at what point do we remove individual choice from people? I am all for education and advertising the importance of particular issues like organ donation etc, but at the end of the day that freedom to decide as maddening as it might be sometimes when not everyone goes along with the crowd,  is what makes Australia a free country.

    • Shazza says:

      12:52pm | 22/01/13

      Removing family veto does not remove choice.  In fact, it supports choice.  The individual made a choice, and went to the effort of signing up to the register.  The individual considered the options and made a very deliberate and definite choice.  Currently, being on the register takes some effort, it is not something that just happens.  Family veto removes choice, and, in my opinion, removes the respect for the what the individual wanted.
      Personally, they can use my body for research if they want, because I know that med students need to learn, medical advances need to be investigated, and it could help people down the track.  And I will be dead.

    • Matt F says:

      01:05pm | 22/01/13

      But doesn’t the family veto remove the ultimate choice from the deceased? If I choose to donate my organs when I die what right does anyobdy else have to take that away from me? Removing the veto is really just strengthening the choice of the deceased which seems fair given that they’re their organs

    • dude says:

      02:35pm | 22/01/13

      “Ban people from opting their children out of immunization”
      Yes, if they’re too stupid to get their kids immunised

    • Kate says:

      04:33pm | 22/01/13

      @ Shazza - my dad has done just this. He signed up so that his body will be used by UWA when he dies. Not sure of the exact process, but the university will cover the expenses for a cremation once they are finished with his body (about 4 years later from memory). He was a former smoker, well into his 60’s and his organs will be of little to anyone use once he’s gone.

      While possibly a little more confronting for people, it is also worthwhile. Even if you are not a good candidate for donation, your body can be used to train doctors and other health professionals who may one day find cures for the diseases requiring organ donation.

    • Catie says:

      11:52am | 22/01/13

      Sounds great! My Dad’s life was saved with a kidney transplant 11 years ago (he was 49). I am very grateful to that person and their family for being generous with their loved one’s organs. I wish more families could have a loved one saved through a transplant like we did. Bring on opt-out and/or no family veto, we need to have more organ transplants in this country, and shorter waiting lists.

    • Tory Maguire

      Tory Maguire says:

      12:30pm | 22/01/13

      11 years… what a co-incidence. I’m very happy for your dad.

    • LC says:

      11:55am | 22/01/13

      If the owner of those organs made it clear as day that he/she wants them put to better use after they pass on, what right does ANYONE have to deny them that?

      What’s next? The family members can veto a will and stop another family member getting the slice of their inheritance that the dead person wishes them to have?

    • St. Michael says:

      01:34pm | 22/01/13

      Um, actually, LC, it’s perfectly possible for family members to veto a will, by order of your local Supreme Court.  Wills are overturned all the time.  It’s been done many, many times in the case of illegitimate children left out of the will for whom the arrogant conclusion is made that the willmaker “must have” wanted to make provision for that possibility.  And the law of inheritance makes it perfectly clear there are significant limits on what the maker of a will can or can’t demand as his final wishes in a will.

    • Erin says:

      04:19pm | 22/01/13

      LC, working in an industry that deals with wills and benefit payments, I can honestly say that you have no idea about wills and making that particular comparison to anything like organ donation is moot to the point of stupidity.  Wills are contested and overturned all the time.  Nothing is sacred any more. The only thing the will really does it make it easy for the government to know who your next of kin is for tax purposes - then the games begin.

    • St. Michael says:

      12:06pm | 22/01/13

      “Every year when we discuss this topic during Organ Donor Awareness Week I hear people on the radio talking about the fear of relatives being left untreated to die by doctors keen for them to be donors. It’s rubbish.”

      I’m not sure that sneering at people’s beliefs about their fears is the wisest way to convince families to consent to organ donation.

      See, invariably when the question is asked whether to consent to a loved one’s body being cut up and harvested for the good stuff like a suburban garage sale, it’s right after death and the family is in a state of deep shock.

      Per this page——“Siminoff et al. for example say that it is not reasonable to expect that family decision makers can or even should relinquish strongly held beliefs about organ donation when experiencing the severe stress of a loved one’s death (p. 76).”

      Also bear in mind that when considering organ donation there’s two types: post-death organ donation, and brain-dead organ donation.

      The first one happens after a definite medical death.

      The other is donation when your vital functions in some ways are still operating—i.e. you’re in a vegetative state but machines are keeping the heart going.

      The latter is probably a lot tougher for families because not only do they have to consent to organ donation, but they invariably also have to be the one who pulls the plug on you, so to speak.  And for all the dismissal of the stories as “foolishness”, there’s plenty of anecdotes across blogs from people who have very unhappy memories of doctors hovering over “brain dead” patients counting up the number of organs that can be harvested—in one case, said patient came back from their “brain dead”, “vegetative” state two months later.

      And while it’s apparently seen as repugnant, there are also cadres of morons out there who think patients that are “dying” should have their organs harvested before death:

      I accept that these will be rare cases.  For my part I don’t believe in arranging my affairs on the belief I’ll get a royal flush at poker ... but let’s face it, doctors, nurses and other “medical professionals” are only human and some get very desensitised to families’ emotions in the trenches of our overloaded health care system.  Hell, in Spain and Hong Kong studies have been done as late as 2010 to suggest nurses themselves are ambivalent about organ donation, the chief objection in each case being “fear of mutilation of the body”.  If that comes from a weary cynicism of watching how their fellow “health professionals” behave in day to day life, then there’s some ground to be made up there.

    • tez says:

      12:07pm | 22/01/13

      If people are prepared to except a donated organ they must be willing to donate them.

    • AFR says:

      01:05pm | 22/01/13

      I’m ok with that… assuming of course, the rule only applies to adults.

    • tez says:

      02:23pm | 22/01/13

      Why that thought AFR ? I can’t see the difference if you are child or adult maybe I am missing an important point,

    • AFR says:

      05:53pm | 22/01/13

      I mean, a child may need an organ transplant, but course they are not old enough to make a decision on donating their own.

      HTH - i need to be more clear with my statements smile

    • Gordon says:

      12:14pm | 22/01/13

      Maybe we should make more of fuss over donors & donor families who go through with it.  Everyone wants their dear departed to be well thought of and remembered. What better way than having a roll of honour chiseled in stone on main street. Thanks of a grateful community…all that stuff.

    • YaThinkN says:

      12:16pm | 22/01/13

      Sadly grief, particularly when it catches people by surprise in the case of an accident or like makes people think differently.  I know of a family who had their daughter die in a car accident.  All had agreed on organ donation, they knew she wanted to be an organ donor, so no problem right?  Wrong.  The sheer shock & horror of being called to the hospital, the worry, the stress, the belief that this could not be happening to them meant they would not even discuss it with the doctors once she was declared beyond help. 

      I have never asked how they feel now, but, if we had an opt-out system, and if the wishes of the donor themselves who had already indicated their preference were not paramount, then this situation would not have happened.  I wonder how many people she could have, and wanted to help?

    • subotic says:

      12:19pm | 22/01/13

      Bender: You think robot life is worth less than human life, don’t you?

      Philip J. Fry: No, no. Well, actually yes.

    • Gregg says:

      12:20pm | 22/01/13

      Those figures are a great tragedy for our nation Tory and it is good that your family felt OK with your brothers situation and no doubt some wellness is found in knowing that some good came from your own personal tragedy.

      Of course the family veto should be removed for whilst as Steven Durrington has outlined there are only certain conditions when a donation can occur and thus shortages will occur, the last thing we want to have is a willing donor and then a family not concurring for whatever reasons and as Marees experience as an organ donor counsellor indicates, it is not a great time right at the end of a loved ones life to be questioning what might take place.

    • Blind Freddy says:

      12:39pm | 22/01/13

      I find it interesting that when it suits we venerate human remains, or we dismiss them as insignificant. Which one is it?

    • Bear says:

      12:48pm | 22/01/13

      Which bible says ‘thou shalt not transplant organs,!? Even if it did, meh! Religion is not a reason.

    • St. Michael says:

      01:25pm | 22/01/13

      No Bible does.  Quite the opposite: insofar as Catholicism is “Christianity”, every Pope since John Paul the First forward has preached organ donation as one of the most generous and loving acts a human being can do for others.

      They very movingly say it echoes Christ giving himself spiritually at the Last Supper: “This is my body, which will be given up for you; this is the cup of my blood ... it will be shed for you, and for all.”

    • Jaqui says:

      01:50pm | 22/01/13

      In your opinion, and we already know the level of morality from which that comes.

    • subotic says:

      02:33pm | 22/01/13

      Catholicism, that stalwart of donor encouragement & kiddy fiddling….

    • iMitchy says:

      02:55pm | 22/01/13

      Jehovahs Witnesses are big on this and there are lots of stories of patients dying because they or their family have refused to allow a blood transfusion. In many cases this can lead to legal action from other family members.

      The one story I remember well is of a girl who was raised as a Jehovah by her parents, she got ill and required a blood transfusion. She refused, even though her parents denounced their faith then and there and encouraged her to have the transfusion, and she subsequently died. The parents now spend their lives warning others to avoid this particular brand of Christianity.

      Unfortunately I couldn’t find a link to this particular story but there are plenty of others about if you have a bit of a Google. You will also find the “explanation” as to why they have this rule.

    • St. Michael says:

      04:07pm | 22/01/13

      Pretty tough on the old noggin to try and understand that people and institutions can be good and bad at the same time, isn’t it, subby? smile

    • Stella says:

      12:51pm | 22/01/13

      people are living too long as it is; there are too many of us for the planet to sustain, our wholly irrational fear of death drives us to survive at all costs. What is the real point here? That we should battle nature every step of the way to claw back more from the inevitable?

      Maybe a more philosophical approach is warranted. I am not religious, but I still hold to a belief that there is a purpose or ‘right way’ if you would, and that most things tend to happen in line with that purpose. I have lost 2 aunts and a mother to cancer, so I am not immune to grief, but I also acknowledge that all things must pass.

      People need to let go, and realize that death is a natural part of existence. No point battling it.

    • St. Michael says:

      01:28pm | 22/01/13

      So ... you’re arguing people dying from kidney or heart failure for want of an organ donor ought just be left to die because there’s too many people on the planet?

      Christ Jesus.  Maybe you should reconsider a religious approach to the issue.  Jesus himself said “I came that you might have life, and have it to the full.”  Shall we drop mass immunisation next on the basis that it’s interfering with St. Charles Darwin’s laws of natural selection?

    • SAm says:

      01:35pm | 22/01/13

      Tell that to the family of a young child born with a faulty body. Im sure once they realise its all natural they’ll be ok with it

    • AFR says:

      01:07pm | 22/01/13

      Religious beliefs are occasionally mentioned in these articles. But, are there actually any religions that ban or teach against organ donation? I thought maybe Jehovah’s Witnesses (I think they are against blood transfusions as well).

      Anyone have any thoughts?

    • Kika says:

      03:30pm | 22/01/13

      The Catholics used to teach that the body should be buried in tact. They were against cremation for this reason.

    • St. Michael says:

      04:20pm | 22/01/13

      The operative phrase being “used to”, Kika.  They’ve moved on a bit since then; the ban on cremation was overturned in 1963-1966.

      The original rationale was that the Catholic Church believes in the physical resurrection of the body on the Last Day, so therefore one shouldn’t destroy the body God gave you.

      Eventually they got round to the Protestant thinking on the subject, which was basically that “If God can make Man from ashes, he can surely raise a body back from ashes.”  Although I still reckon the Proddies actually did it because they were all Scandinavians and had a genetic desire to get back to the old Viking tradition of sticking the body in a boat and then sending it out to sea while it burned… smile

      On the other hand, the Eastern Orthodox Church still forbids cremation, and only permits it where it can’t be avoided because a civil authority demands it (i.e. large scale burning of bodies to prevent the plague and whatnot.)

      And you still can’t have an organ transplant if you follow Shinto, or indeed the customs of the Gypsies.  And then there’s Jehovah’s Witnesses who’ll allow organ donation so long as you drain all the blood out first.

    • Brian says:

      04:44pm | 22/01/13

      I believe the official JW position on organ donation is that it’s ok - so long as ALL blood is removed. Similarly auto-transfusion (taking blood before surgery and putting that blood back into the donor later) is ok, as it’s not someone elses. At least, that’s the way a couple of friends who used to practice explain it.

    • Wary Citizen says:

      01:08pm | 22/01/13

      Opt-out suggests that you, in the absense of awareness, are a resource owned by the state to be used as seen fit by others. Just as everyone is entitled to their choice as to whether they donate or not, they are also entitled to not be interfered with. Any resolution that makes an action compulsory is inherently inherently dangerous; stop and think about how many times a day you are caught out by minor bureacratic technicalities or simply information errors, and then tell me you would be happy to let every person who dies be interfered with “just in case”.

    • AdamJ says:

      01:13pm | 22/01/13

      I’m not a donor and I don’t intend to be one.  My decision has nothing to do with religion (I’m Atheist).  I’ve discussed this with my parents multiple times and each time they seem to forget my position despite making my wishes clear more than once.

    • Kate says:

      04:38pm | 22/01/13

      I’m curious, how come? No judgement, just wondering.

    • NSS says:

      01:14pm | 22/01/13

      I’ll wait a little longer to see if my previous comment is published. If it isn’t I will take it as read that comments in oppostion are not required and that only those who share Tory’s point of view, which she has very emotively put in regard to her own experience are being sought.

    • Carly-Jay Metcalfe says:

      01:23pm | 22/01/13

      I had a double lung transplant when I was twenty-one. I had days to live, so was incredibly lucky that a family, in their state of absolute devastation, made a choice (no doubt respecting their daughters wishes) that has given me nearly fifteen years of life I wouldn’t have had.

      Am I an organ donor? Of course I am. I’m a little disturbed that people still believe the old myths about organ donation, such as ‘doctors won’t save my loved one just so they can use their organs.’ What a stupid assumption to make. Doctors want to save as MANY lives as they can - that’s the Hippocratic Oath (‘do no harm’).

      My donor and her family are my heroes. I don’t know who they are, but wish I did. They donated all of their daughters organs after a catastrophic brain bleed - what incredibly brave and selfless people. Be a hero - be an organ donor.

      As for the arguments about religion - all lawfully recognised religious denomination support organ donation, so Bruno - you can scrap that off your ‘why I won’t donate my organs’ list.

    • Eonyk says:

      01:24pm | 22/01/13

      I also would suggest that another potential solution to the issue of family members vetoing an Organ Donor’s wishes: Ensure that family members consent *before* the person is dead and they are in a haze of grief.

      How about, when you register as an organ donor, you are registered tentatively under a ‘Registered Donor’ stamp. Then for full registration, your family/next of kin are asked to sign and confirm they agree to give their consent should you die (by signing a consent form). When you register, you nominate your next of kin and the organ donor registry send them out a consent form asking them to confirm, and this is linked to your registration. Your family/NOK must return the consent within XX amount of days for you to be fully registered in the system. This will *force* people to have these sorts of discussions with their family members and you will know where people stand. The person who registered as a donor will also (as a final step) get a confirmation of full registry and who is listed as their NOK, so sneaky family members can’t say they’ve consented if they really haven’t. Once all this is complete, you are officially on the system as a ‘Confirmed Donor.’

      If your NOK won’t consent at the time of your registration, then I believe the names should still stay on the list as a ‘Registered Donor’ but with a marker that consent has not yet been confirmed by NOK/family. Registered Donors stay in the system, and can be updated to Confirmed Donors at anytime if things change. And also at the time of death, doctors can still have one final chance to get consent from the NOK, as is the current process.

      This system would be set up so people can opt-out again at any time and unregister themselves, and every 5 years or so, a letter is sent out to all Confirmed Donors to ensure they have their current next of kin/family listed as giving consent, so that any changes can be made to their registration so it is up to date. A letter could also be sent to Registered Donors every 5 years as well, reminding them that they are not yet Confirmed, so there is always a regular reminder/campaign to get as many Registered Donors updated to Confirmed Donors as possible.

      Once people are listed as a Confirmed Donor, the only step doctors would have to do is ensure the NOK who gave consent is still current at the time of the donor’s death. If so—no questions, no talk, no changes of mind while they are grieving—their decision was already registered and doctors can just get on with the donation process as quickly as possible. If any changes to next of kin have happened in between registering and death, then again, doctor’s seek consent from the current NOK.

      I don’t know if this all sounds too complicated, but just an idea of how to lessen the pressure on doctors to get consent and family to make such a decision at a time when they are grieving…

    • Lea says:

      01:33pm | 22/01/13

      When my husband and I were writing our will this comes up.  I have been a registered donor since before we were together and he knows my wishes and so do my family.  But the decision would ultimately come down to them regardless of my wishes, so I vetoed them by appointing a medical power of attorney over my body if I am ever in that position.

    • Joan says:

      01:33pm | 22/01/13

      New twist to `The Body Snatchers` it would seem. Leave system as is - approval by family or prior written consent of deceased .  Chop up, slice and dice not for me and no don’t want anyone else`s spare parts

    • CJM says:

      02:31pm | 22/01/13

      Wow. Get educated, Joan. What if your kidneys or liver or lungs were failing? Would you say yes to having a transplant? I very much doubt that you’d rather the alternative.

    • Anniebello says:

      02:52pm | 22/01/13

      but Joan, “approval by family or prior written consent of deceased”?

      Under the current system, the one you advocate keeping, my wish to donate my organs can be vetoed by my family but your wish to not donate can also be vetoed by your family.

      Wouldn’t it be better if your wishes (and mine) were the absolute last word?

    • Geronimo says:

      01:36pm | 22/01/13

      An implied case for ‘doing some very important things’  to Uncle Boris while he’s swinging in the breeze with the greatest of ease? G`waaan, imagine the very real risk of creating another Madcap Abbott….aaaaagh!

    • Craig Clayton says:

      02:04pm | 22/01/13

      I guarantee you those who refuse to donate their organs would be thr first to accept one if they needed it. Your dead people, they are no use to you.

    • Cam says:

      04:25pm | 22/01/13

      Oh dear Craig, don’t let Colin see your spelling error!

    • Cam says:

      04:25pm | 22/01/13

      Oh dear Craig, don’t let Colin see your spelling error!

    • Cowboy says:

      02:19pm | 22/01/13

      I’ve told my family that I will return and haunt them until the day the die should I perish early and they veto my demand to donate my organs.

      If a person has stated by official means that they wish to be an organ donor then I simply cannot see how a family member should be able to overturn this.  The veto is a hangover from yesteryear when stating your intentions was not as simple nor as prominent as it is now.

      Are you a registered organ donor?  Yes?  Good, your organs go, as per your wishes, regardless of family wants.

      The sooner this is implemented, the better.

    • facepalm says:

      02:35pm | 22/01/13

      Modify your will to include the phrase: “Should my next of kin veto my wishes to have my organs donated they will be entitled to none of my estate, the portion originally willed to them going to (insert charity of your choice)”
      If they thwart your efforts to one final act of generosity against your wishes bugger em.

    • Pizza says:

      03:12pm | 22/01/13

      I have been a registered donor since 1977, long before anything but kidneys were used.
      I WILL haunt anyone who vetos my wishes and they know it.
      ‘SO YES’ take away the families ability to be able to do that, let my dying wish be just that. Its what “I” want, not them.

    • Kika says:

      03:35pm | 22/01/13

      I like the opt out system best. It’s the easiest to run, work and operate and if your beliefs are that strong you will register to opt out.  It’s too easy for when situations come up where loved one is tragically and suddenly killed or dies unexpectedly for grief to crop up and families out of desperation refuse to accept your desire to donate.

    • eddy langmair says:

      03:51pm | 22/01/13

      What most people don’t know and sorry to burst your bubble. The Coroner will make the final decision regardless if it is a Coronial matter or not!  Some years back my mother had her eyes removed prior to having family consent and were heading into surgery when we finally received the phone call looking for permission!  It should be left to the family regardless of what the deceased persons wishes are, there could be hundreds of reason while they wont allow donation.  For me I tried to donate a kidney some years back to anyone that needed it, only to be rejected on the stupid grounds I may need it later in life.  I’d give part of my liver now to help save a child, same rules cant do it!  It’s an imperfect world and emotions will always get in the way of what the dead wants.  Remember death and weddings always brings the worst out in people

    • tea says:

      03:53pm | 22/01/13

      Mandatory harvesting is unconsititutional. The government can not take what belongs to you without fair compensation - see the Australian Consitution. Your organs belong to you, and after your death to your estate. Hence the permission of relatives is required. If we permit the government to take them willy-nilly (just like now in the case of mandated autopies) then it is a bad precedent to set. If we allow them to take bodily possessions without consent then they will extend this to other aspects of our possessions e.g. income/capital assets etc.

    • Veritas says:

      04:08pm | 22/01/13

      There is NOTHING in the Constitution to support your claim. Stop the BS.

    • Brian says:

      06:15pm | 22/01/13

      Section 51(xxxi): “The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:
      (xxxi) the acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws;”

      If you make the assumption that the bodyparts of the deceased are property, and that at least for a period the ownership passes to the health department (i.e. government) this section applies. I’m not aware of the legal ownership of a body, even when alive, but I’d suggest that once dead it is possible for a body to become property - e.g. medical specimens can be sold.

      It’s a long bow to draw, but it’s not completely unsupported.

    • Chris says:

      05:48pm | 22/01/13

      I’m not on a donor list myself and refuse to be on one.
      I don’t need to be on same list for it to happen and forcing me to be on one will make me opt out anyway. The Government and politicians thieve from us and screw with our lives and right too much as it is with out telling us our organs are theirs when we kick the bucket.

      I have made several statements to my mother that if asked then they can use what ever they need. If I get married or am in any relationship I will make sure my wife/Girlfriend knows the same thing.
      Sure you will all think I’m being stupid etc and I should just signup but we see and approach things differently. That’s how I want it.

    • CAM says:

      06:02pm | 22/01/13

      Legally the family has no right to deny an organ donation when the donor has elected to be a donor. Every individual has a right to autonomy and self-determination in relation to what happens to them medically and in relation to donation after death. This so-called “veto” is permitted by doctors who are sensitive to the family’s emotions but legally incorrect in following them. If the matter came before a court - the court would follow the deceased’s wishes as expressed during their life.

    • Esther says:

      06:40pm | 22/01/13

      For a lot of people the issue is : when is a person ‘dead’?  When you have loved someone all your life and they are unconscious and brain dead, your greatest desire is to finish the journey with them, as they take their last breathe and their spirit leaves their body.  I understand that for many people this spiritual side of death is not real to them, but having been with someone as they died, it’s an extraordinary experience and perhaps something that we humans were meant to experience.  Organ donation interrupts this moment, and I think this is one of the big reasons families don’t want to hand their loved one over to a doctor to begin harvesting organs.  I’m not against organ donation per se but I do think that defining ‘death’ is tricky.  I also worry at the haste with which brain injured patients are declared brain dead.  Any time you hear of a tragedy resulting in a traumatic brain injury it seems that the family make a decision within the first couple of days to turn off life support and donate organs. Listen to news reports and you’ll see a pattern.  It makes me wonder how pressure families are being placed under to donate organs. I personally think these patients deserve more time.

    • Snick says:

      06:56pm | 22/01/13


      1.  “. . . youR throw rocks?  You must have meant “. . . you throw rocks”.

      2.  There are three dots in an ellipsis, even when used in conjunction with a question mark.  No exceptions.

      3.  Why is ‘Rational’ capitalised in the middle of a sentence?  We’re using the English language here, not German.

      4.  “. . . if you possess such a lazy using and updating . . .” is grammatically incorrect.  One cannot possess a “lazy using” of anything.

      5.  “That i rail against . . .” should read “That I rail against . . .”

      Writing should be clear and understandable.  You fail to clear either of those hurdles with your pompous gobbledygook.  Furthermore, your over-use of semi-colons is laughable.

      I certainly hope my organs are never used to keep you alive.


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