Hospitals to be paid for organs?
SAM MULLER has been on the Australian Organ Donor Register for as long as she can remember.
For the Maryborough mum, the choice was simple: her organs and tissues could potentially save the lives of up to 10 people if, God forbid, something were to happen.
Yesterday, however, Ms Muller’s support for the cause faltered slightly for the first time in her life following revelations that Australia’s hospitals could be paid up to $11,400 to harvest transplant organs from dying patients.
“It doesn’t seem right,” she said.
A $17 million “activity based funding” scheme has been set up under the Federal Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority in which hospitals could receive up to $11,400 for each patient who becomes a donor.
The funding is designed to help hospitals cover the costs linked to transplants and securing consent from grieving families into keeping alive critically ill patients who would not normally be revived.
While lobby groups have backed the plan, saying the scheme is a positive step for the hundreds of Australians waiting for an organ transplant, doctors are worried it could be seen as an incentive for hospitals to pressure patients into giving away their organs.
Ms Muller said she could understand why.
“It seems to encourage that. I don’t think people should be pressured into it.
“The last thing grieving families want is to be bullied into giving away their family member’s body parts.”
Despite the controversy, Ms Muller would never consider taking her name off the donor register.
She said she hoped 18,659 fellow donors from Maryborough and Hervey Bay would feel the same way.
Today is the beginning of Organ Donor Awareness Week which is this year themed “family discussion” because a third of Australians have not discussed organ and tissue donation with their family.
This means the current national consent rate sits at 56 per cent, despite more than 80 per cent of Australians supporting organ donation.
“If you plan to be an organ donor, it’s important that your family know and accept your wishes as they will be asked to give their consent for the donation to proceed,” Minister for Human Services Chris Bowen said.
In the past year the Wide Bay Burnett region has seen a jump from 53,856 to 54,741 residents joining the register.
That equates to 13,531 in Hervey Bay, 5128 in Maryborough and 15,469 in Bundaberg and the Burnett.
To register to become an organ and tissue donor visit www.medicareaustralia.gov.au or call 1800 777 203.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Australia has one of the lowest donation rates in the world – despite its world-class reputation for successful transplant outcomes
About 1700 people are on official organ transplant waiting lists
On average, people wait up to four years for a transplant
One organ and tissue donor can save the lives of up to 10 people and significantly improve the lives of dozens more