DonateLife Week is Australia's national awareness week to encourage organ and tissue donation. During this Week, Australian citizens are motivated to register as organ and tissue donors and to discuss this with their family and friends.

What do we know about donors?

For patients who would otherwise encounter a long waiting list for an organ from a deceased donor, a living donor is an option. Family members, loved ones, peers, and even participants who want to remain anonymous can serve as living donors to save a person from a long and uncertain wait. Many lives are saved as a result of living donations that are directed, non-directed, or paired exchange.

Anyone over the age of 16 can sign up to donate organs and tissues. It makes no difference how old you are or whether you believe you are unhealthy. The two most important things you can do are register and notify your family. Signing up is important because it informs your family, as well as doctors and nurses, that you wish to be a donor. It's simple to sign up and only takes a minute. It is critical that your loved ones are aware of your desire to be a donor. This will assist them in making a decision when the moment arises.

How transplants happen

Donated organs or tissue can save and significantly improve the lives of many sick or dying people. Approximately 1,750 people are currently on the transplant waiting list. Everyone on the list has been evaluated and found to be eligible. People are typically on the waitlist for 6 months to 4 years, though some wait even longer. A further 13,000 people are on dialysis due to kidney failure and may require a kidney in the future. When one person donates their organs, up to seven people can be removed from the waiting list.

Australia is known around the world for its successful organ transplants, and the vast majority of recipients go on to live full and active lives.

Blood group, size, compatibility, and urgency are used to match organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, and pancreas. Blood group and tissue compatibility are used to match kidneys.

The person in greatest need will receive the transplant regardless of culture, religion, gender, social status, disability, or age (unless otherwise specified).

Organs and tissues that can be transplanted include:

  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Pancreas
  • Heart
  • Lung
  • Intestine
  • Corneas
  • Middle ear

Myths about Donation

Myth: It's better to let my family decide when the time comes.

Fact: You must inform your family if you want to be an organ or tissue donor.

Myth: It's my decision; I don't need to consult with my family.

Fact: Your family will be asked if you want to be a donor and will be asked to give consent to donation.

Myth: I can't donate because I lived in the United Kingdom.

Truth: You can donate organs but not tissues.

Myth: Donating organs and tissues will disfigure my body.

Fact: Organ and tissue donation surgery is performed with the same care as any other surgical procedure.

Myth: Donating organs and tissues is against my religion.

Fact: Organ and tissue donation is regarded by all major religions as an act of compassion and generosity.

Myth: I'm too old to donate organs and tissues.

Fact: Age is not a barrier; people as old as 80 have become organ and tissue donors.

Myth: My driver's licence already shows that I'm registered. I don't have anything else to do.

Fact: You can no longer register to be a donor when applying for a driver's licence unless you live in South Australia.

Myth: Because of my lifestyle choices, I am not in good enough health to donate.

Fact: You can still register to be a donor if you smoke, drink, or eat unhealthily. You are not required to be in perfect health.

Families in donation

Families play an important role in the donation and are supported by DonateLife both during and after the donation process. There are numerous support services and resources available to families with donors.

Support for families during donation includes; phone calls to families following donation written information additional contact and support if requested. Families can choose whether or not to receive ongoing contact and support. Families can seek assistance from their local DonateLife Agency.