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Organ donor rates plummet to record low

12:35PM Friday January 05, 2007
New Zealand is desperately short of organ donors, according to new figures released today.

There was a record low of 25 organ donors 2005 -- down from an average of 40 a year prior to 2005.

Andy Tookey, from GiveLife NZ said the figures, supplied by the Australia & New Zealand Organ Donor Registry, was considered low by international standards.

New Zealand sits between Iceland and Mexico for the number of donors -- just six donors per million of population.

At the other end of the scale, Spain records approximately 35 donors per million of population, the United States 21, and the United Kingdom 10.7.

Mr Tookey said the low road toll and better medical care may have improved critical care outcomes so it was important not to lose potential donors through families overriding donors' wishes or doctors not asking families in the first place.

The last audit conducted into deaths in intensive care units showed that out of 104 potential donors, the doctors did not ask 35 families and a further 31 families refused permission for their loved one's organs to be donated.

He has joined forces with National MP Dr Jackie Blue and the pair have co-authored a proposed law change prohibiting family members and doctors overturning a person's expressed wish to be a donor

"With doctors not asking families and other families saying no, we need to give the power back to the individual," Mr Tookey said.

"What is the point of someone specifying they want to be a donor if it means nothing and can be overridden by everyone else?"

Mr Tookey also questioned why doctors were asking for a second consent when they had a perfectly legal one already from the person concerned "who made the decision whilst in sound and calm mind and...replacing it with a decision made by others at a fraught and distressing time".

Mr Tookey said he would be opposing the Government's own organ donor bill which he believed would give more veto powers to people further reducing the organ donor rate.

"The Government bill will allow others to veto your wish to be a donor on the grounds of their (not yours) spiritual and cultural beliefs," he said.

courtesy of the NZ Herald: www.nzherald.co.nz

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