Organ and Tissue Authority

Queenslanders save 320 lives through precious ‘gifts of life’

Article Date: 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The lives of 320 people were saved last year through precious ‘gifts of life’ from generous Queensland donors and their families.

In Queensland last year, 105 organ donors gifted life after they died and 23 people became living kidney donors.

The release of today’s national performance report* indicates Queensland donor rates in 2017 remained steady, sustaining the 47% jump in organ donation experienced during 2016. (There were 106 donors in 2016 – up from 72 in 2015).

DonateLife Queensland today publicly acknowledged the families whose choices have saved and transformed so many lives.

Barbi Alexander’s brother, Robert, was one of those generous donors. Their family knows all too well the heart-wrenching pain of losing a loved one, but say they gained comfort knowing their loved one had given the ultimate gift.

Robert passed away suddenly last year. The generous act of donation gave two recipients, who are doing very well, a second chance at a healthy life.

“As a registered nurse and a registered organ donor I saw the potential to turn something very sad into something wonderful,” Barbi said.

“It gave us great pride to incorporate the DonateLife pin in Robert’s wreath at his funeral.”

DonateLife Queensland Medical Director Dr Leo Nunnink said donor families were the ultimate heroes, choosing to give life to someone they’ve never met at a time of overwhelming grief.

“Today we thank and honour those choices. We do so on behalf of almost 300 transplant recipients who are alive today because of their choices.”

Dr Nunnink said he was heartened to see Queensland maintain the significantly higher donation rate achieved in 2016.

“Consolidating the previous year’s big increase shows it wasn’t a one-off in Queensland. The organ donor rate has more than doubled in Queensland since the reform agenda began,” he said.

In addition to the lifesaving organs gifted for transplantation, almost 1200 Queenslanders also donated tissue, including eye, heart valve, skin and bone. These life-changing gifts help repair young children’s hearts; restore sight; and help people recover from life-threatening burns, illnesses or accidents.

Dr Nunnink thanked the dedicated health professionals involved in the care of donor families, ensuring the safe and ethical delivery of their gifts of life from donor to recipient.

Last year, organ donation registration was launched online at www.donatelife.gov.au and can now be completed in under two minutes with just your Medicare card.

“It’s important that you not only register your decision, but speak with your family about that decision,” Dr Nunnink said.

“We know more than 90% of families say ‘yes’ to organ donation when their loved one is registered and they’ve had that discussion.”

There are around 1.057 million (December 2017) or 28% of Queenslanders registered on the Australian Organ Donation Register, which remains below the national average of 34%.

The 2017 Australian Donation and Transplantation Activity Report is available at donatelife.gov.au

Organ donation background facts:

  • On average, about 1,400 people are on the transplant waiting list at any time.
  • Organ donation is medically possible in less than 2% of all deaths. Many more people can donate tissues, as there are fewer medical restrictions.
  • One donor can save many lives.
  • People in their 80s have donated organs in Queensland.
  • The number of Queensland donors has more than doubled since the introduction of Australia’s national program in began in 2009 (from 47 to around 105 donors per year). 
  • Three quarters of Queenslanders say they want to donate their organs and tissues, but only one quarter have actually registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register (AODR) at donatelife.gov.au