“Our beautiful girl started to decline and we knew the end was near. Then in the middle of the night with the rain pouring down that miracle phone call came, we have a donor kidney. I cried for the next two hours as we travelled the highway to Sydney. For the next 48 hours there was not much sleep, but lots of prayers. As each day passed we watched her come back to life.”
For Fran Armitage, the brave decision by a stricken family at the height of their grief in January 2013 to donate the organs of a loved one gave her daughter Talicia the gift of life.
Talicia’s was extremely fortunate. She was one of just 1122 Australians to benefit from the legacy of the 391 people who became organ donors that year.
As tiny as those figures are, 2013 was still the peak year for organ donations in Australia.
In 2009 when the former Labor Government established DonateLife to turn around Australia’s tragically low rate of organ donation there were just 247 Australians donating organs to 808 extremely fortunate patients.
Over the next four years donation rates grew almost 40 per cent but sadly, figures released just this month are a deeply concerning sign the growth in organ donations is slowing.
In 2014 the number of donors slipped to 378, and recipients to 1117, the first slide in both numbers in five years.
This will be distressing news for the 1500 patients currently on the transplant waiting list and comes as the Abbott Government attempts to merge the body responsible for improving access to life-transforming transplants, the Organ and Tissue Authority with the National Blood Authority, which looks after blood and plasma donations.
This is, to say the least, a short sighted move that can only distract the hard working staff at both organisations.
As the Senate Committee on Health found, “on the evidence the before the committee it is clear that a merger of the OTA and the NBA would result in minimal, if any, “savings”. The result is far more likely to put at risk the positive work done so far by the OTA, with the consequence that organ donation rates in Australia suffer.”