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Organ donation review will look at cultural barriers

STUFF - 9 October 2015

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has released the terms of reference for a review into New Zealand's low deceased organ donation rates.

MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX MEDIA

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has released the terms of reference for a review into New Zealand's low deceased organ donation rates.

A national review of deceased organ donation procedures will look at whether cultural and religious factors are contributing to New Zealand's low rates of organ donation.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has released the terms of reference for the review, which will only look at deceased organ donation, because a number of initiatives were already underway to improve donation from living donors.

"Although overall donation rates have increased in recent years, New Zealand still has relatively low rates compared with other countries," he said.

"Our donation rate is around 10 per million people compared with 16 per million people in Australia. Spain has 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."

Among the topics the review would likely consider was "ethical, cultural, religious, and demographic factors within the New Zealand context". 

Organs that are able to be donated are rare, with potential donors having to have died in specific circumstances.

The pool of available organs can be reduced further if a deceased person who has identified themselves as a donor on their drivers license, is overruled by their family for cultural, religious or ethical reasons.

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 the review would consider was New Zealand's consent system, including the driver licencing 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.

Read the full terms here.

At last year's budget, the Government allocated $4 million over four years to set up a National Renal Transplant Service to increase the number of live kidney donor transplantations.

A private members bill under National MP Chris Bishop, which would increase financial support for living donors, was being considered in Parliament.

In 2012, $2 million was given to Organ Donation New Zealand for increased support, coordination and education for staff in intensive care units in relation to deceased organ and tissue donation.

That included $1.8 million to fund the Clinical Research and Effective Practice Foundation (now the Middlemore Clinical Trials) to help overcome barriers to live donor kidney transplantation in Pasifika and Maori patients.

An initial report from the review is due to be completed in March next year.

 - Stuff



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