|Requests of organ donors to prevail|
By Miranda Wood, Health reporter
January 30, 2005
Organ transplants are expected to increase this year after Australian health ministers changed the rules to ensure the wishes of donors are honoured.
The changes, effective from July, are aimed at stopping grieving relatives overruling a donor's decision.
Doctors will no longer need families' consent to take organs from a person who has registered to donate through the Australian Organ Donor Register.
Clinicians will still be required to inform families and ask them whether their loved ones may have changed their minds since registering.
Under present rules, families must give consent before organs can be transplanted.
Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott said: "Family sensitivities will not be trampled on.
"If families maintain sincerely held objections even in the face of a deceased person's legally recorded consent, organ donation will not proceed."
The new rules were agreed upon at the Australian Health Ministers Conference in Sydney on Friday.
Mr Abbott said the changes would significantly increase the availability of life-saving organs for transplantation
He said from July, the government would operate the Australian Organ Donor Register as a "register of consent rather than intention".
"Some currently registered donors will need to lodge a new form to strengthen their registration to consent," he said.
More than 5.1 million people have registered their intention to become donors.
Despite the new rules, Australians are still encouraged to talk about organ donation with their families.
Figures show when a family is not aware of a relative's wishes, organ donation doesn't proceed in 50 per cent of cases.
Australia has one of the lowest organ donor rates in the world, but donations have risen.
Last year's rise has been partly attributed to the death of former Australian cricketer David Hookes, whose family donated his organs.
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