For someone who is seriously ill, an organ or tissue transplant can mean the difference between life and death, being healthy or sick; between seeing or being blind; or between being active and never walking again. Transplantation enables people to resume an active role in their family, workplace and community. Organ donation gives someone who has organ failure a second chance at life.
Becoming an organ donor is a rare event. To be able to donate you need to die in hospital and your organs need to be functioning well to be transplanted. In 2019 around 1,300 Australians – about 2% of people who die in hospital – had the opportunity to donate their organs.
There are then other reasons why people may not progress to organ donation, including undiagnosed chronic illness, cancer or infectious diseases. In 2019 there were 756 families who consented to be an organ donor, but only 548 could go on to donate their organs.
People who are not suitable to be an organ donor may still be able to donate their eyes and tissue, including bone, skin and heart valves.
One organ donor can save the lives of up to seven people and help many more through eye and tissue donation.
With around 1,700 Australians on a waiting list for an organ transplant, and a further 12,000 people on dialysis, the generous act of organ donation has far-reaching effects, changing the lives of those needing a transplant and their families.