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Why is organ and tissue donation important?

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.

Very few people have the opportunity to become an organ donor. To be able to donate you need to die in hospital and your organs need to be functioning to be transplanted. In 2020 around 1,250 Australians – around 2% of people who died in hospital – were able to be considered for organ donation.

There are then other reasons why people may not progress to organ donation, including undiagnosed chronic illness, some cancers or infectious diseases. In 2020 there were 680 families who consented for their family member to be an organ donor, with only 463 actually becoming an organ donor.

More people are able to donate their eyes and tissue, including bone, skin and heart valves. This includes people who donate organs and those who are unable to donate organs.

One organ donor can save the lives of up to seven people and help many more through eye and tissue donation.

With around 1,800 Australians currently on a waiting list for an organ transplant, and a further 13,000 people on dialysis, the generous act of organ and tissue donation has far-reaching effects, changing the lives of those needing a transplant and their families.