Heart transplant recipient Louise Owen, of Lennox Head, pictured at her first physiotherapy workout five days after her transplant.
Heart transplant recipient Louise Owen, of Lennox Head, pictured at her first physiotherapy workout five days after her transplant.

Heart receiver keen for donors

AFTER receiving a life-saving heart transplant late last year, Lennox Head woman Louise Owen is committed to increasing the rates of organ donation in Australia.

New figures from the Australian and New Zealand Organ Donation Registry (ANZOD) and the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority show that organ donation is on the rise, but many more donors are still needed.

As of January 4 this year, there were 1770 people on waiting lists for transplants.

Ms Owen, who is president of the Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce, received her heart transplant after living for 35 years with a failing heart due to a genetic form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

“Donor organs are desperately needed to save lives,” she said.

“I would like to see organ donation as an ‘opt out’ program, whereby all Australians are automatically organ donors and, if they prefer not to be, then the onus is on them to opt out.

“In my situation, I received a very good, young heart and another young man received lungs from the same donor at the same time.

“We are both well and keen to stay that way.”

During the past year, 247 organ donors helped save the lives of 799 recipients.

ANZOD chairman, Professor Graeme Russ, said these were some of the highest figures since transplantation began more than 40 years ago.

But he said more donors were needed to help make a difference.

“The need for an increased organ donation rate is evidenced by the 1770 (1310 for kidney) patients waiting as at January 4, 2010. This compares with 1716 at the start of 2009,” Prof Russ said.

Organ and Tissue Authority chief executive Karen Murphy said people needed to discuss their wishes with their family.

“Families need to know each other’s wishes about organ and tissue donation because, even if you are registered as a donor, your next of kin is still asked to give consent for donation to take place,” she said.

Deputy NSW Opposition Leader and Shadow Health Minister Jillian Skinner said more should be done to encourage people to donate.

“While the families of those patients choosing to donate their organs during difficult circumstances should be praised and supported, as a state NSW should be doing more to encourage organ donation,” she said.

“The leading state for organ donation is South Australia, with a rate more than double that of NSW. The 69 organ donors in NSW enabled 215 transplant recipients to get the replacement organs they so desperately needed.”



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