Organ donation reaches record highs in NZ

organ donation surgery health
Only 1 percent of people die in ways where their organs can be used (File)

Organ donations and transplants reached record numbers in New Zealand last year.

Organ Donation New Zealand figures show there were a total of 61 deceased donors in 2016, a 69 percent increase over the past four years.

That compares to:

  • 53 deceased donors in 2015
  • 46 in 2014
  • 36 in 2013.

From the 61 donors, 181 organs were transplanted.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says it follows efforts to increase rates.

"The Government has a comprehensive work programme to increase organ donation rates," says Dr Coleman.

"In the past four years we've provided an additional $8 million to increase support and education for hospital staff, fund donor liaison coordinators, and help overcome cultural barriers to donation."

Despite the record numbers, the Government says it still has ambitions to grow the rate further.

Efforts include raising public awareness and identifying potential donors in intensive care units.

Fewer than 1 percent of people will die in circumstances that make it possible for organs to be donated. 

Deceased donors are most commonly people who have suffered a fatal illness or injury that has led to brain death and a ventilator is all that is keeping their organs alive.

A second circumstance is donation after circulatory or cardiac death, when it is clear the individual cannot survive,  although this is currently uncommon in New Zealand.