Saving lives: More West Australians encouraged to register as organ donors

West Australians are being encouraged to register to be an organ donor and to have a conversation about it with their family and friends, following DonateLife Week 2019 earlier this month.

Running from July 28 to August 4 this year, the awareness campaign aims to promote organ and tissue donation, with a specific call to action in 2019 to find a 'plus one'.

If every registered donor found one person who was not already registered and encouraged them to do so, the amount of potential donors could double.

One organ and tissue donor can save the lives of up to 10 people and significantly improve those of dozens more.

Last year, the lives of 128 people were saved by donations from 41 WA residents, giving them the gift of life.

So far in 2019, 29 West Australians have donated organs to 73 people and 117 people are currently waitlisted for life-saving transplants.

Around Australia, 1400 people are currently waitlisted for a transplant and a further 11,000 people are on dialysis, of whom many would benefit from a kidney transplant.

On average, those people on the list can expect to wait between six months and four years for a transplant.

Registering to be an organ donor is simple and it could one day save the lives of many people.

WA health minister Roger Cook

WA health minister Roger Cook said not enough West Australians were registered on theAustralian Organ Donor Register and urged current organ donors to find their 'plus one'.

"Although we know most Australians are willing to donate their organs and tissue, only 37 per cent of people in WA are registered organ donors and we'd like this to be much higher," he said.

"We encourage more West Australians to register to be a donor and to have a conversation about it with their family and friends.

"Registering to be an organ donor is simple and it could one day save the lives of many people."

While Australia's transplant success rates are among the best around the globe, the country has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the developed world.

Additionally, each Australian has a 10 times greater chance of requiring an organ transplant than of becoming an organ donor.

A DonateLife spokeswoman said registering to become an organ and tissue donor gave hope to those whose lives depend on receiving a transplant.

"We can save and transform more lives if more Australians register to become donors," she said.

"The gift of organ and tissue donation gives recipients a second chance at experiencing all of the love, joy and adventure that life has to offer. Thousands of Australians are living their lives to the fullest because of the generosity of organ and tissue donors."

One of the most common myths about organ donation is people thinking they can't donate because of their lifestyle choices, are too old, or sick to become a donor.

Organ and Tissue Authority chief executive Lucinda Barry

Organ and Tissue Authority chief executive Lucinda Barry said many people were choosing not to become a donor because they were misinformed about donating, including that donors must be in "perfect health" to save lives.

"One of the most common myths about organ donation is people thinking they can't donate because of their lifestyle choices, are too old, or sick to become a donor," she said.

"People who smoke, drink or don't have the healthiest lifestyle can still donate.

"We encourage you to register and let a doctor make the decision if you would be a suitable donor when the time comes."

In Australia, the family will always be asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased before donation for transplantation can proceed.

However, not everyone can be a organ donor with those eligible required to die in hospital. Of those who die in hospital, only 2-3 per cent die in circumstances where it is feasible for them to donate organs.

About 15,000 people a year die in WA and, of that, a maximum of about 300 could be potential organ donors.

DonateLife state medical director Dr Simon Towler

DonateLife state medical director Dr Simon Towler said a number of things could make a registered donor unable to donate.

"It's a tiny group of the people who die each year who are potential organ donors because there are conditions that can make them unsuitable," he said.

"About 15,000 people a year die in WA and, of that, a maximum of about 300 could be potential organ donors."

To register to be an organ and tissue donor, visit the DonateLife website. It only takes a minute and you only need your Medicare card. Donors are also encouraged to tell friends and family to register online.