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The transplantation sector

The organ donation and transplantation process is complex and involves a large number of health professionals working across the end-to-end organ donation, retrieval and transplantation system. All of those involved are dedicated to achieving the best possible outcomes for patients and their families who generously donate and those who need a transplant.

In 2019-20 we continued to strengthen out partnership with the retrieval and transplantation sector.

We work with our Transplant Liaison Reference Group and a number of professional organisations and associated committees that represent the many facets of the Australian organ transplant sector. In November 2019, we established the OrganMatch Strategic Governance Committee to provide national governance and oversight of OrganMatch. The committee's focus is on maintaining clinical currency and driving clinical best practice change that will optimise organ donation and transplantation outcomes.

The committee is chaired by the President of the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) and consists of representatives from each of the TSANZ organ-specific advisory committees, the OTA, tissue typing laboratories, the National Manager of OrganMatch, a consumer representative, and representatives of professional societies and outcome registries.

A newly formed COVID-19 National Transplantation and Donation Rapid Response Taskforce. This Taskforce, established in March 2020 in response to the pandemic, has been instrumental in providing an effective forum for key clinical stakeholders across donation, retrieval and transplantation, infectious diseases, and tissue-typing fields. The Taskforce considers the clinical impact of COVID-19 on donation and transplantation in Australia and communicates critical information to the clinical sector on the delivery of organ donation and transplantation services in the COVID-19 environment.

The Taskforce convened for their first meeting on 17 March, and met weekly thereafter during the peak of the pandemic, to monitor developments and consider the potential future impact on donation and transplantation services. Membership comprises the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) President; TSANZ Advisory Council Chairs; the OTA’s CEO, National Medical Director and National Manager Analytics; representatives of the OTA’s Vigilance and Surveillance Expert Advisory Committee (including infectious disease physicians); DonateLife State Medical Director and Agency Manager representatives; and tissue-typing representation.

We welcomed the Australian Government-led final report of Phase 1 of the Review of the Australian Organ Donation, Retrieval and Transplantation System which was released by The Hon Mark Coulton MP on 21 February 2020. The review found that increased donation activity has created significant pressure on downstream retrieval and transplantation services and on the capacity of the health system. A key finding of the review was that enhancements to the current system are required in order to sustain and continue to drive optimal transplantation outcomes. The final report identified the following three key priorities for action:

  • developing a national strategy to meet the expected increase in organ transplantation volumes
  • improving governance to optimise future growth and sustainability of the donation, retrieval and transplantation system
  • developing a nationally-driven approach to focus and improve organ donation and transplantation rates and outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Australians who live in rural and remote locations.

We are working with the Commonwealth Department of Health who have established the Jurisdictional Organ Donation, Retrieval and Transplantation Steering Committee to progress Phase 2 of the review. Membership of the steering committee includes government representatives from all jurisdictions and our CEO. The committee is currently working to develop a future national strategy for the organ donation, retrieval and transplantation system which will complement the OTA/DonateLife 2019–23 Strategic Plan, Progressing Australian organ and tissue donation and transplantation to 2023. The national strategy will ultimately be provided to Health Ministers for consideration and endorsement.

Australian retrieval and transplantation units (June 2020) An infographic indicating retrieval and transplant units in Australia as at 30 June 2020

ANZKX | OrganMatch | NIKTT ANZKX | OrganMatch | NIKTT
The Australian and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange (ANZKX) commenced on 1 July 2019, with the first exchange successfully occurring in October 2019.

OrganMatch is Australia's world class system managing our waiting lists and enabling optimal immunological matching and best practice allocation of organs for patients awaiting a life saving transplant.

The National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT) is dedicated to improving equity to and access of kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torrest Straight Island people.