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Attempts to boost organ donor rates 'won't work'
5:00AM Thursday March 08, 2007

Organ Donation New Zealand says bills aimed at improving New Zealand's donor rate won't work and will be a waste of resources.

Stephen Streat, clinical director of Organ Donation New Zealand, the national agency co-ordinating donations, appeared before Parliament's health select committee yesterday. He also represented intensive care doctors.

The committee is considering the Government's Human Tissue Bill and National MP Jackie Blue's member's bill to set up a register.

New Zealand's organ donation rate lags behind that of other developed countries but Dr Streat said the bills would not fix that.

There are about 350 people on waiting lists for organs but only 100 of 28,000 deaths a year met requirements to be a donor - that is be brain dead in an intensive care unit.

The number of donors had dropped as medicine advanced to save people and the road toll dropped. At Auckland City Hospital, the cases of brain death over the past five years had halved.

Dr Streat said registers were costly and ineffective and created a false impression they would increase donor rates. He said surgeons would never overrule a family's wishes.

"I think that imposing a one size fits all policy, which is supported by the majority of the population on a minority of the population at a time of grief, is simply inappropriate and incongruous with good medical practice."

He said cases where family ignored the deceased's view were "extremely rare" and the scenario had been made into "the major issue about which much agony and discussion takes place".


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