Increasing deceased organ donation rates – Expert reaction

The government has released a discussion document outlining plans to boost New Zealand’s comparatively low rate of deceased organ donation.

Surgery donationAccording to the Ministry of Health, demand for transplants in New Zealand, particularly kidneys, continues to rise while our rate of deceased organ donation remains low at 11.8 donors per million population in 2015.

The Ministry is undertaking a consultation on the proposed changes to the organ donation system, including: developing a national strategy with a view to doubling deceased donation rates, improving the driver’s licence system to be a more effective register of people’s wishes to donate, enhancing specialist training and increasing financial support for hospitals.

“Organ transplantation is a life-saving treatment and for people with organ failure it’s often the only option available,” said Health Minister Jonathan Coleman in a media release.

“While we already have many of the elements of an effective organ donation and transplantation service in New Zealand we can do better.”

The Science Media Centre collected the following commentary.

Dr Jon Cornwall, Senior Lecturer and Tissue Donation Researcher, Victoria University of Wellington, comments:

“The proposal appears to be a step in the right direction and covers many of the elements that would be expected to support an improvement in organ donation rates.  In regards to ethical issues, it is important to highlight the necessity for wide-ranging public consultation within New Zealand to guide appropriate and acceptable ethical frameworks for the implementation of any strategy to ensure its downstream success.  Such consultation would also lay the platform for developing an effective public awareness campaign, which is likely a key element to ensuring any improvement in organ donation rates.

“Interestingly, there is no mention of infrastructure support for ICUs in relation to increasing the capability of hospitals to cater for potential donors (e.g. beds per population, ventilators and specialist equipment), and this important element requires scrutiny to ensure any organ donation-related goals are achievable.

“The suggestion of an alteration in the drivers license system to encourage organ donation status updates with vehicle warrants is interesting; any discussion on organ donation registers needs to be approached with caution and wide consultation is required on this subject.”

Coverage of the consultation includes: Revamp planned to boost rates of organ donation
New Zealand Herald: Proposed changes to boost number of organ donations
NewstalkZB: Andy Tookey – “Government not acting on poor organ donation rate”
TVNZ News: ‘Change in culture needed’ – Health Minister hopes NZ can match global leader on organ donation rate
NZ City News: Govt looks to increase organ donation rate –
NewstalkZB: Consultation underway to improve organ donation rates
Newshub: Ideas welcomed to increase NZ’s organ donation rates
Otago Daily Times: Plans aim to boost organ donations Campaigner urges organ donor register to lift NZ’s low donation rates More kidneys needed as donation rates stay flat
SunLive: Increasing organ donation rates
Otago Daily Times: Organ donation attitude cited
Otago Daily Times: Primary duty to save lives
MSN NZ News: Call for NZ organ donor register
Waatea News: Advice to boost Maori organ donation sought
New Zealand Herald News: ‘Culture change’ to lift organ donation rates
Newstalk ZB: Organ donor system ‘woefully inadequate’
Māori Television: Māori leader supports Govt call for more organ donors