37 per cent of older Australians assume they are too old to donate.
New research released last week by the Organ and Tissue Authority has found that 81 per cent of Australians 65 years and older are willing to become organ and tissue donors, but 37 per cent assume they are too old to donate.
The research also revealed that only 71% of participants understood that family is always asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased and 28% of participants have never had a discussion with their family members about their donation wishes.
"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 Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing Catherine King.
Organ donation is a subject I find hard to consider as it conjures thoughts of death for myself or a loved one. I decided about six weeks ago it was time that I shared my thoughts with someone in my family, so I sat down with my mother. As soon as I mentioned the subject, she interrupted me hurriedly with “they can take anything they want, just not my eyes”. We both had a laugh and I then made clear my wishes of not wanting my organs to be donated. My mother made some very good points about donation during our discussion which made me want to seek more information on the subject and to reconsider my stance.
My online research into organ donation revealed that there is a huge difference in the type of donation that can take place. Organ donation (kidneys, lungs, heart, liver, pancreas and intestines) is possible when a person dies suddenly and is declared brain dead in hospital, which is only about 2 per cent of all deaths each year.
Tissue donation is the most common form of donation as it occurs when a person dies a biological death where their heart and lungs stop functioning. These donations can include bone, heart valves, veins, skin, ligaments and tendons which can significantly improve the quality of life for the recipient. It is estimated that one in 20 people will require some type of tissue transplant during their life, making donation even more important.
While I don’t like the idea of a doctor harvesting my body for parts after I pass away, I can’t take them with me into the next life (just like money). I will be changing my wishes this week to become a full organ donor.
Have you expressed your wishes to your family? Why or why aren’t you going to donate your organs when you die?
Read more from www.donatelife.gov.au
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