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Live organ donor regime 'killing people' and 'costing a lot' - researcher

STUFF - 21 Oct 2015

New Zealand has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world, for both live and deceased donors. The Government is reviewing deceased donor procedures, while a private members bill from National MP Chris Bishop is aiming to lift compensation for live donors while they recover.

New Zealand has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world, for both live and deceased donors. The Government is reviewing deceased donor procedures, while a private members bill from National MP Chris Bishop is aiming to lift compensation for live donors while they recover.

The Government is "costing itself a lot of money in order to kill a lot of people" under its organ donor scheme, says a right-wing think tank. 

Head of research for the New Zealand Initiative Dr Eric Crampton said told MPs a severe shortage of live organ donors was not surprising.

The Health Select Committee was considering a private members bill under National MP Chris Bishop, which would increase financial support for living donors to 80 per cent of their income.

There were consequences of having a regime, where people were forced to "give up something very valuable to them for zero compensation". 

"As you'd expect you get a pretty strong shortage, when you force the price to be zero."

Crampton said he supported the bill, but it could be better. 

He supported an increase to the level of compensation to 100 per cent of a person's income. 

Research out of Victoria University showed many people were finding the financial burden imposed by the time out of work, to be a "substantial barrier to their donation."

"It's one of the stupidest kinds of financial barriers you could ever put up; the Government is effectively costing itself a lot of money in order to kill a lot of people," he said. 

"The Government saves a lot of money with every transplant." 

In the initiative's submission Crampton also supported Kidney Health New Zealand's submission to cleave Work and Income NZ (WINZ) of the responsibility of managing the compensation. 

"If you had that instead with the transplant teams who deal with the donors, it would be a lot easier for the donors. They wouldn't have to be dealing with often people who have never had experience of that in going through the benefit system," said Crampton.

Kidney Health chief executive Max Reid said his submission "bordered on a plea".

"Don't, for goodness' sake, leave WINZ to administer it. 

"You've read some of the responses we got from live donors. This is not like any other benefit that Winz administers.... even WINZ staff struggle with it," he said.

"This isn't about a person being off sick... this is probably the most intentional act a person will ever make.

"The whole process is about health, the donors, the transplant recipients, and we would suggest the mandate and the means to manage the process end-to-end be given to health." 

Donors are paid between $140 and $350 a week for up to 12 weeks taken off work. If passed, Bishop's bill would increase support from the equivalent of the sickness benefit to 80 per cent of the donor's pre-operation earnings - in line with ACC.

They would also be eligible for childcare support.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman had also ordered a review into the procedures around deceased organ donation and New Zealand's low rates. 

READ MORE: Organ donation review will look at cultural barriers

Coleman has said the rate of donation had to increase, to help the 700 people currently waiting for a kidney transplant and around 40 people waiting for liver, cardiac or lung transplants.

Among the other issues the review would consider was New Zealand's consent system, including the driver licensing system and practices for gaining consent from family members.

It would investigate New Zealand's health sector capacity and capability, and funding and performance arrangements.

New Zealand's deceased donation rate was about 10 per million people compared with 16 per million people in Australia. Spain had the highest rate at 36 per million people.

In New Zealand there were 46 deceased organ donations carried out last year, up from 36 in 2013.

Coleman said the rate of donation had to increase, to help the 700 people currently waiting for a kidney transplant and around 40 people waiting for liver, cardiac or lung transplants.

Among the other issues that review would consider was New Zealand's consent system, including the driver licensing system and practices for gaining consent from family members.

It would investigate New Zealand's health sector capacity and capability, and funding and performance arrangements, and it would also look at cultural and religious barriers. 

 - Stuff



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