Motions: Donatelife Week

Wednesday September 11, 2019

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (11:49): On behalf of Ms Cook, I move:

That this house—

(a) recognises DonateLife Week from 28 July to 4 August;

(b) recognises the importance of organ donation;

(c) encourages families to discuss the importance of organ donation and to register their decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register; and

(d) encourages the Marshall government to support comprehensive publicity and education programs focusing on both the public and healthcare professionals.

I support the motion by the member for Hurtle Vale recognising the importance of organ donation. Some issues surpass politics and state borders, and I believe that organ donation is one of them.

A bit of interesting history about the Australian Organ Donor Register, established in 2000, is that it is a national register for people aged 16 years or older to record their decision about becoming an organ and tissue donor. Prior to this, questions on state driver's licences was the main way a person's intentions could be noted.

A study was conducted in 2002 on the number of people prepared to donate their organs and those numbers were 45 per cent in New South Wales and Tasmania, 47 per cent in South Australia and 52 per cent in Queensland. Information was incomplete for the remaining states. Over the years, many states have scrapped driver's licence donor registration. South Australia is now the only remaining state in Australia where residents can record a donation decision via their driver's licence.

When we tick the box to become an organ donor at the motor registry or online, that information goes directly to the Australian Organ Donor Register. It is a decision that we are reminded of every time we renew our licence. At 68 per cent, South Australia has the highest registration rate of any state in Australia, while the national average is just 33 per cent. This is a fact we can and should be proud of. Statistics from 2018 show that 93 per cent of families agreed to organ donation if their loved one was registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register. It is the ultimate way to let your wishes be known.

At 73 per cent, South Australia also has one of the highest consent rates in Australia, versus the national average of 64 per cent. Consent for donation was given in seven out of 10 cases when the family had prior knowledge of their loved one's wishes. This dropped to five out of 10 families agreeing to donation when the family was unsure of their loved one's wishes.

While it is vitally important to have that conversation with your family about your wishes, it is equally important to register the decision with the national registry. If registration increases, consent rates will also increase, and more people will be given a second chance at life. As we are all aware, successful organ donation can be a bit of a lottery of odds and circumstance. Less than 2 per cent of people who die in hospital are eligible to donate their organs through circumstances often beyond their control.

Their organs may not be in the best condition for transplant or not compatible with those on a waiting list, so it is critical that registration is as high as it can possibly be to increase those odds. The more people who are registered, the more likely that organ donation will occur. Last year, a record 95 South Australians received organ transplants from 36 donors. One of these was Mount Gambier's Kimberley Telford, who had the state's first kidney/pancreas transplant and who I know personally and have spoken to many times and also relayed her story in this house.

Currently, one in three Australians is registered on the national Organ Donor Register, which is a positive figure, but it could be higher. Just like dying without a will, I imagine sometimes that people die without making their intentions clear about organ donation. The intent is there, but they just have not got around to formally completing the task. Something needs to prompt people into action. If other states were to adopt our licence scheme, that call to action would occur every time someone renews their licence.

Often I look at what colleagues are doing in other states for ideas that could also assist our state, and I hope that by raising this issue today it will prompt discussion in other states on reinstating state-based licence schemes. As a nation, we could be leading the way on organ donation. As we often get up here and draw attention to things that are not working, I also feel it is important to talk about when something is going right and give credit where credit is due. I feel proud to live in a state that is leading the way on organ donation rates. It shows that education campaigns by DonateLife SA are working and attitudes are changing. I commend this motion to the house.