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Wednesday, 18 August 1993
Page: 172

Senator NEWMAN —I move:

  That the Senate—

    (a)notes and pays tribute to the young organ donor, Nicholas Stone, for his unselfish decision, prior to his death at the age of 9, to donate his organs;

    (b)acknowledges the unselfish and courageous behaviour of all organ donors and their families whose generosity of spirit makes possible life and sight saving transplant operations for others in the community;

    (c)calls on the Government to examine the possibility of financial support for counselling services for families of donors; and

    (d)records its appreciation for the foresight and compassion of all those who, like Nicholas Stone, take steps before their death to declare their willingness to donate their organs to those whose lives might be changed or saved by them.

I seek leave to make a very brief comment on this very important and significant motion.

  Leave granted.

Senator NEWMAN —I thank the Senate and I draw honourable senators' attention to the fact that Nicholas Stone's family are present in the gallery with us today. I wanted to draw to the Senate's attention what lay behind this motion. About two and a half years ago, a nine-year-old was knocked down outside his home in a motor accident. That accident was seen by his father. There was then a mad rush by helicopter to a hospital in the city because they live in the country. In that two hours the parents had to drive through peak hour traffic to get to their son's bedside and to be told that he was brain dead. They were then asked to sign a consent form to donate his organs.

  All of us who are parents would realise that it is so terrible to lose a child and that the thought of having other pressures like this on them at that time must have been dreadful. Nevertheless, after great turmoil, they knew that, in a family conversation not long before, the nine-year-old had said that in this eventuality he believed his organs should go to somebody else. So, with terrible anguish, they gave consent, but as they look back now they realise that they were in no fit state to give that consent. Sadly, there were no counselling services available at that hospital for them in their agony.

  In addition, their questions were answered by a surgeon who probably himself was uncomfortable and brusque in his treatment of them. They have now lived with that agony for two and a half years. But it does not end with a personal tragedy; it ends with hope for Australia, because those parents, Peggy and Ross Stone, have set up an organisation called the Silent Hearts Donor Family Steering Committee as a recognition of the hearts that go on beating in other bodies and the silent hearts that are in pain in the families of those people in Australia who gave those organs.

  This family is looking for recognition for the families who go through those terrible decisions. They look for support for all families so that they do not go through this anguish alone. They also look to give support services—mutual support to other parents in the same position.

  I thank the Senate for supporting this motion. This is an extremely important matter that should be drawn to the attention of the federal parliament. In that we are facing the International Year of the Family in the coming year, I would hope that the federal government would see that counselling services for grieving parents, for any purpose but particularly in this area of organ transplants, could be ensured for all those going through these difficult decisions.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.