Not too old to donate organs
Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing Catherine King today appealed to older Australians to decide about and discuss their organ and tissue donation wishes with their loved ones.
Research commissioned by the Organ and Tissue Authority found that while 81% of Australians aged 65 years or more are willing to become organ and tissue donors, 37% wrongly assume they are too old to donate.
There are around three million Australians aged 65 years and above and this is a growing demographic.
"Age is not a barrier to becoming an organ and tissue donor. In 2011, 54 Australians aged 65 or over saved or improved lives by donating their organs including lungs, kidneys and livers.
"Older Australians also donated tissues including corneas which help to restore and improve the sight of others. While the median age of all organ donors last year was 50 years – there was a very broad age range with the oldest organ and tissue donor in 2011 being over 85 years," said Ms King.
"No one should ever assume that they are too old or unhealthy to become an organ and tissue donor. Transplant professionals will decide which organs and tissues can be used at the time of death after looking at your past medical history, the condition of your organs and their suitability."
"New research found that 49% of people 65 years or over have not discussed their donation wishes with family members in the past 12 months and 28% have never had the discussion.
"Many Australians aged 65 years or over believe that it is better to just leave it to their family to decide, even though 82% of them believe it is important that their family know their wishes and 71% correctly understand that the family is always asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased.
"While one in two older Australians are aware that few people will die in the specific circumstances where organ donation is possible, the fact that many more can become tissue donors means that the potential exists for all Australians to save or improve one or many lives through donation.
"My message to all older Australians is to please let your loved ones know your wishes about organ and tissue donation and to understand that age is not a barrier to saving or improving the lives of others. People who have had cancer or other health problems have been able to become a donor.
"If you have made a donation decision and previously shared your wishes with your loved ones, this is a timely reminder to do so again to ensure your loved ones are prepared in the event they are ever asked to confirm your donation wish."
"You also need to know the donation wishes of your loved ones, should you one day be asked to confirm their wishes about organ and tissue donation.
For more information see www.donatelife.gov.au.
21 June 2012.