More organ donors needed, despite progress

More organ donors needed, despite progress

Organ donor rates are on the rise but more work needs to be done, says the Minister of Health.

New Zealand's main transplant centre, Auckland Hospital, carried out the highest number of organ transplants to date last year, helping 149 adults and 21 children.

But Jonathan Coleman says while progress is being made, further work is needed.

"Organ transplantation is a life-saving treatment, and for people with organ failure it's often the only option available," says Dr Coleman.

Between 2014 and 2015, the number of deceased donors increased from 46 to 53. But New Zealand deceased donor rates remain low internationally, at 11.8 donors per million population, while demand for transplants continues to rise.

In comparison, Australia's organ donation rate is 18.3 donors per million, while Spain has a rate of 39.7 donors per million.

The Government is currently consulting on ways to improve numbers, and the closing date for submission is on Friday July 29.

Proposals include raising public awareness and standardising how hospitals identify potential donors and discuss it with families.  

"Many other countries have achieved significant improvements, after introducing strategies to increase their organ donation rates, and we hope to do the same through the proposals we are consulting on," says Dr Coleman.

"Letting your family and friends know you would like to be an organ donor is really important."

Auckland DHB carried out 90 kidney, 48 liver, 23 lung, 12 heart and three pancreas transplants in 2015. The first combined liver and pancreas transplant was also performed.

A further 59 kidney transplants were performed at Wellington and Christchurch Hospitals in 2015.