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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7552


Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (20:47): I rise today to support the motion put forward by the member for Canberra that the House recognise the record year of organ donation in Australia in 2010, when there were 309 multiple organ donors. There are few other areas of policy and public debate as emotive as organ donation. There are also many myths surrounding the practice and procedure of extracting and implanting donor organs.

I acknowledge the good work of organisations such as DonateLife, which have played a major role in breaking down the barriers some people have put around organ donation. The development of the awareness of organ donation is increasing people's understanding and support of a family member's decision to donate. I also acknowledge the powerful advertising campaigns of recent times to encourage discussion with loved ones surrounding their thoughts on organ donation. In my electorate of Hasluck I know of people who need an organ transplant which would enable them to lead a fulfilling life or just survive.

My office and I are proudly part of the workplace Partnership for Life program run by the Organ Donation and Transplant Foundation of WA. We supply organ donation merchandise to local community groups, display posters in the office and include the organ donation banner on our email signatures. It is our effort to help raise awareness of this important issue, which has been neglected in the past. It is pleasing to be able to acknowledge the record of 309 multiple organ donors in 2010, which resulted in 931 recipients receiving transplants improving their quality of life and, ultimately, that of their family. So far in 2011 there has been a significant increase in a number of transplants. I commend and thank those individuals and families who have made the hard but benevolent decision to donate organs and human tissue so that someone else may live. There is no greater gift than the gift of life, and the families who made the decision to allow doctors to harvest their loved ones' organs are truly life savers.

The rise in organ donation and the role of families within this is not coincidental. The federal government, and I compliment the federal government's initiative, injected an additional $151 million into national hospitals to establish a more coordinated approach to organ donation. Since this funding became available, more than 240 staff in 77 hospitals around the country and in DonateLife organisations have been appointed. This helps the states and territories to work in a more coordinated manner to improve the rates of organ donation throughout Australia.

In Western Australia just 8.5 people per million donated their organs in 2009. Change has occurred. At a point in time four people were expected to die needlessly in Perth waiting for a liver transplant, while more than 120 people were waiting for kidney, lung, heart and liver transplants. In 2010 this has risen to 9.6 people per million, and the national average also rose from 11.3 to 13.8 people per million during the same period.

The true scale of people waiting for a transplant each year is often not known as many patients are not placed on the list. It is not until they are listed as being in critical need of a transplant that the true number is known. In 2007, for example, there were over 1,880 people listed as waiting for a transplant. This has since dropped to an average of 1,700 people waiting for a transplant.

I am pleased to be able to stand here today and say that in 2011 from January to May there have already been 141 people who have donated their organs. This has resulted in 416 people being given single or multiple organ donations, and for many a second chance at life. This is a trend that I hope continues. I acknowledge that any discussion with loved ones about their wishes to donate organs or human tissue is a challenging one—but an equally important one. According to DonateLife, only 17 per cent of Australians have had a conversation with their loved ones about this very issue, despite 98 per cent agreeing that organ donation has the potential to save and improve people's lives. This is crucial, as many organ donations still do not take place despite someone's wishes to do so if a family member is not fully informed of an individual's choice when the time comes.

Debate has been going on in Western Australia for some time surrounding so-called 'opt-in, opt-out' legislation which appears to have proven successful in countries like Spain, which have a donation rate of over 30 people per million compared to the Australian average of 13.8 in 2010. More research needs to be conducted into policies surrounding organ donation, and I would support moves by both sides of government to examine this issue. I am proud to acknowledge the good work undertaken so far in this field of medicine, and I hope we are witnessing the beginning of a renaissance in organ donation in Australia. Thank you (Time expired).