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Transplant Terrorists Strike Again

*****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*****


GiveLife New Zealand

8 March 2007

Transplant Terrorists Strike Again...

The organisation that controls New Zealand's world low organ donor rates have once again tried to push that they are above the law by telling Parliaments Health Select Committee that if they changed the law that an organ donors wishes become legally binding they would ignore that law, says organ donor campaigner Andy Tookey.

New Zealand has one of the lowest organ donor rates in the world at just 25 organ donors last year. On a worldwide scale that puts us just ahead of Mexico but behind Iceland.

Parliaments' Health Select Committee are currently considering two bills in an effort to improve our poor organ donor rates. A private members bill sponsored by National's Associate Spokesperson on Health, Dr.Jackie Blue's bill would introduce a legally binding register for would be donors and non donors. The government bill provides that a donors' wish may be vetoed by family members on "spiritual and cultural grounds."

Members of the country's National organ donor service Organ Donation NZ (ODNZ) spent considerable time in their submissions to the committee opposing a register, a register of any sorts.

The Health Select Committee have previously investigated setting up an organ donor register, not once, but twice and on both occasions have recommended that a register proceed. The government have also announced that a register will go ahead.

"These medics are challenging and re-litigating what the select committee have already ruled on twice before. They are trying to get three bites of the cherry and are trying to challenge the law makers not to change the law as they would not abide by the law. I am hoping that these transplant terrorist techniques designed to blackmail and intimidate the committee do not succeed" Said Mr Tookey.

"Organ Donation New Zealand oppose a register saying "they do not work." However evidence provided by registries in many US States say not only do they work but have made a HUGE difference to their sign up rate. An example is Wyoming that has a massive 85% sign up rate. With Utah and Idaho close behind with a 67% sign up rate. ODNZ has provided selective figures only on the non-successful registries to try and justify their argument. If registries actually dropped donor rates why are so many places still continuing to implement them? Surely they would have looked at the pros and cons of them before going ahead with them? Why are we so determined to re-invent the wheel when other countries are successful at it? In the meantime people are dying." said Mr Tookey.

In their submission to Parliament yesterday ODNZ backed up their argument by using figures from seven years ago.

"In 2003 in response to my petition to Parliament on organ donation the organ donor service were against a public awareness campaign on the grounds that a public awareness campaign "would not improve the organ donor rate." Countries that do well in organ donation say public awareness is the key to their success. Who would we rather believe, the countries that do well in organ donor rates that say pubic awareness is the key, or New Zealand, in the third world countries list that say it doesn't work?

Four years on we are having the same discussions again but this time on registers."

According to written submission provided by ODNZ to the committee another reason why they oppose the individual having the final say on their organs over family members is: “Registering a wish to donate organs or tissues following death can only be considered as an intent or an indication of a wish to donate. Informed consent is obtained from the family following death.”

Mr. Tookey believes this statement is arrogant as it is saying that individuals can not make their own informed decision but their family can. "This arrogance was further displayed when the Medical Director was asked if it was correct that he thought that MP's should "Butt out of the issue as they didn't know what they were talking about" To which the Medical Director replied "That's partially correct." I believe he is wrong, it is not for a handful of doctors to decide "doctor knows best." But is an issue for all our MP's to decide as well as society as a whole to discuss. Another Intensivist who said "public discussions of organ donation will not be helpful." is yet another sign that the handful of people who control the (very low) organ donor rates in this country believe it is up to themselves and no one else to decide are out of touch with reality.

When asked by the select committee what they thought about the recent poll that showed 91% of people want their wishes legally binding ODNZ were dismissive of the publics' views.

Comments on this topic are welcome and can be sent via the contact page on at: www.givelife.org.nz

courtesy of SCOOP www.scoop.co.nz



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