Record low amount of organs donated in New Zealand

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Friday, January 5, 2007

File:New Zealand R. Driver Licence.JPG
Donor highlighted on New Zealand driver licence.

Figures released today show that the number of organs donated by New Zealanders in 2006 has decreased by four to a new record low of 25. In 2005 the number of organs donated equalled 29, a previous record low in New Zealand.

Before 2005 the number of organ donations averaged 40, an already low number by international standards.

Andy Tookey, campaigner for GiveLife New Zealand, said: "It is important not to lose donors through families overriding donors' wishes or the doctors not asking families in the first place." In the Intensive Care Units an audit showed that there was a possibility of 104 donors and only 69 of those families were asked if the organs could be donated. And 31 families refused to donate the organs.

GiveLife suggested that the main reason for the lack of donors could be the low road toll and the better healthcare.

Doctor Jackie Blue, National member of Parliament, and Mr Tookey have together proposed a change to the current law, in opposition to the latest change in the law proposed by the government, which he claims will give more power to help reverse the decline in organ donations. Mr Tookey said that the government's proposal bestows power upon others to "veto your wish to be a donor."

Mr Tookey said: "With doctors not asking families and other families saying no, we need to give the power back to the individual. What is the point of someone specifying they want to be a donor if it means nothing and can be overridden by everyone else? Why are doctors asking for a second consent when they have a perfectly legal one already from the person concerned, who made the decision whilst in sound and calm mind and then they are replacing it with a decision made by others made at a fraught and distressing time?"

In world league tables of organ donations, New Zealand currently stands between Iceland and Mexico for the numbers of organs donated. Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom top the table, with 25 donors per million population, 21 donors and 10.7 donors respectively.