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Games raise awareness of need for organ and tissue donation

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The Hon Catherine King MP Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600  Telephone: (02) 6277 4230 Facsimile: (02) 6277 8428

3 October 2010

Games Raise Awareness Of Need For Organ And Tissue Donation

The 12th Australian Transplant Games, which officially opened in Canberra today, play a crucial role in raising awareness and support for organ and tissue donation.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, in Commonwealth Park, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King, said that while Australia was a world leader in successful transplant outcomes, it had one of the lowest donation rates among developed countries.

However, a $151.1 million national reform program for organ and tissue donation, established in 2008-09, was already having considerable success.

“In the first half of this year, 149 Australians gave the ultimate gift of their organs - the highest number for the first six months of any year in the past decade,” Ms King said.

“As a result 450 recipients have received life-saving and life-transforming transplants.

“In the past two years Australia has averaged more than 250 donors a year compared with fewer than 200 donors a year in the previous 10 years.”

Ms King said a survey had shown that most Australians supported organ and tissue donation.

“In fact 77 per cent said they were willing to become donors - we need to turn that willingness into action,” she said.

In Australia, the family’s consent to organ and tissue donation is always sought. The most important thing for families to know in making a decision is the donation wishes of their loved ones.

“These Games will increase awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation and encourage people to have that discussion with their loved ones,” Ms King said.

The Government saw the Australian Transplant Games as a key event for raising community awareness about organ and tissue donation.

“To this end we have provided over $1 million to Transplant Australia to stage the 2008 and 2010 Games, as well as the World Transplant Games, on the Gold Coast, last year,” Ms King said.

The Games will continue in Canberra until 10 October. They are being staged at the Australian Institute of Sport and other sporting venues around the city, with more than 600 people from across Australia attending.

For more information, contact the Parliamentary Secretary’s Office on 02 6277 4230