Nursing Online – March 2009

Organ donors saving lives

Australia has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the world. This means that many of the people currently on transplant waiting lists will die. There are many sites on the web that provide more information about organ donation and the stories of people who have given or received donor organs.

Organ donation: a chance for Australia to do better
Mathew, T. and Chapman, J., Medical Journal of Australia 2006, 185 (5): 245-246

Organ donation saves lives. This trite but true slogan applies to all the solid organs that are currently transplanted. Even in patients with kidney failure, where dialysis provides long-term treatment, the mortality rate is reduced significantly in those who receive transplants compared with those remaining on the waiting list. Improved survival, improved quality of life and reduced economic costs of care provide an unusual coincidence of benefits from this therapy.

Background Briefing: The greatest gift
Reporter: Ian Walker

Donating your body, or the body of a child, to medical research is a great gift to mankind. Most of you can be recycled: your eyes, your skin, your bone or even a little piece of your heart. Now they want to grind your bones for surgical putty. Then, your dead bits will be helping a biotech company’s bottomline, too. Can altruism and commerce live side-by-side when it comes to giving ‘the greatest gift of all’?
(Originally broadcast on 17 September 2006) briefing/stories/2006/1814801.htm

The future of organ donation in Australia: moving beyond the ‘gift of life’
Thomas, M. and Klapdor, M.

The ‘gift of life’ doctrine insists that organ donation is an altruistic, egalitarian and essentially moral act. This paper argues that the ‘gift of life’ doctrine may be viewed as being flawed on a number of grounds, and that any changes made to Australia’s organ donation and transplantation system in the future should be premised, first and foremost, on an understanding of the act of donation as that of a rational, autonomous decision-maker.

Not only would this provide an accurate basis for Australia’s organ donation and transplantation system, but it would also al-low for the widest possible range of motivations for organ donation while not compromising people’s ability to make ethical choices in donation. At the same time, grounding Australia’s organ donation and transplantation sys-tem on the notion of a rational, autonomous decision-maker could enable a number of changes to this system, the ultimate outcome of which may be an increased number of organs available for trans-plantation and more saved Australian and New Zealand lives.

Transplant Australia

Transplant Australia exists to enrich and celebrate life. Our vision is for Australia to lead the world in organ and tissue donation and transplantation – saving lives, improving quality of life and providing much-needed care and support. Our members share a special bond, having all been touched in some way by transplantation. They include those awaiting transplantation, donor families, living donors, transplant recipients, and the doctors, nurses and co-ordinators working in the organ and tissue donation and transplantation sector. While they have their own unique story to tell, they are part of a team that serves to celebrate and cherish the greatest gift of all – life itself.

Transplant Nurses’ Association

The TNA is committed to advancing opportunities to enable education, research and networking for nurses and allied health professionals involved in transplantation.
This website is to enhance communication by promoting, providing and communicating knowledge and current information to those interested in the transplant field and associated areas.