Register to become an organ donor today
Published at: 01 Aug 2019
GOULBURN VALLEY HEALTH’S NURSE DONATION SPECIALIST NATASHA PEARSON IS ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO REGISTER AS AN ORGAN DONOR DURING DONATELIFE WEEK.
Held from July 28 to August 4, Ms Pearson said the week was about raising awareness and encouraging people to register for organ and tissue donation, as well as having a conversation with their family about their intentions to donate.
“It takes the onus off the family because you’ve made the decision before you die,” she said.
Ms Pearson noted a huge variance in the rates of donation when family members were aware of their loved one’s decision.
“Nine in 10 families consent to organ donation when their loved one was a registered donor; this drops to just five in 10 when the family is unaware of their loved one’s decision.”
Ms Pearson said almost anyone could be an organ and tissue donor.
“You can never be too old; and if you can’t donate organs you still might be able to donate tissue,” she said.
Federal Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government Minister Mark Coulton is responsible for the Organ and Tissue Authority.
He recently launched Donate Life Week 2019 and also urged Australians to register as organ and tissue donors.
“With more than 1400 Australians on the waitlist for a lifesaving transplant at any one time and a further 11 000 on dialysis, I’m urging people to get online this week and sign up,” Mr Coulton said.
Ms Pearson said Victoria was leading the way when it came to donation rates, with more than one third of organ donors in Australia coming from Victorian hospitals.
So far this year, there have been 90 deceased Victorian organ donors and 235 recipients.
It was a personal connection to organ donation that prompted Ms Pearson to go into her line of work, where she liaises with families, educates staff and hosts events to encourage organ donation.
John Foster, the father of a schoolfriend of Ms Pearson, received an organ transplant in 2005.
“He always looked unwell and as time went on I hadn’t seen him for a long time;
I ended up seeing him and he looked really well and I found out he had had a heart transplant,” Ms Pearson said.
She said it was his story that encouraged her to become a nurse donation specialist and it was exciting to celebrate the 14th anniversary of his transplant this week.
Mr Foster and his wife Dot make the trip from Melbourne to support the event.
“I owe organ donation everything,” Mr Foster said.
"Without the generosity of a donor I wouldn’t be here.”
Mrs Foster said her family was extremely thankful her husband had received the heart transplant.
“Hopefully we’ve done the heart proud,” she said.
Ms Pearson encouraged people to register to become an organ and tissue donor at: donatelife.gov.au
“It takes less time than it does to make a cup of coffee. All you need is your Medicare card,” she said.