ORANGE hospital is in a unique position to lift the organ donation rates in Australia, however last-minute family objections remain a stumbling block according to an Orange health professional.
Orange Health Service director of intensive care Dr John Lambert said the service had put a huge effort into improving organ and tissue donation in the last three years.
He said the appointment of an organ donation co-ordinator based in Orange to work throughout the region has played an important role in lifting donation rates, with Sonia Brathwaite recently stepping into the role first introduced at Orange Base Hospital in 2009.
“It still seems, and I have had this experience myself, that people are not communicating their wishes to their family about organ donation and in the event of someone’s death legislation supercedes the wishes of the patient,” Dr Lambert said.
“We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to have that conversation with your family.”
Dr Lambert said a change in terminology from organs being harvested to organs being retrieved had changed community perceptions.
“However, I think people still grapple with organ and tissue donation and it is still in many ways poorly understood,” he said.
With Orange hospital a level five intensive care unit, Dr Lambert said protocols and procedures were locked in to facilitate organ donation.
“However, it is important that we now have systems in place in Cowra, Parkes and Forbes to facilitate corneal, bone, heart valve and bone marrow transplants through the Orange Health Service,” he said.
Dr Lambert said broadening education programs to increase tissue donations for corneal transplants was moving in the right direction.
“Overall donations have lifted and there is a strong focus on corneal tissue, for example, but overall I think we need to take a big step when it comes to families communicating with each other about their wishes for organ donation,” he said.
Dr Lambert said regional areas would never reach the same levels of organ donations as metropolitan areas due to lower populations.
“Quite often, too, people who meet all the criteria for organ donation have already been transferred to a metropolitan area,” he said.