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Govt looks to increase organ donation rate

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/06/2016

The government is looking at new ways to increase rates of organ donation from deceased donors.

Demand for transplants, particularly kidneys, continues to rise, but New Zealand's rate of deceased organ donation remains comparatively low at 11.8 donors per million people in 2015.

In Australia the rate is 18.3 donors per million and in Spain it's 39.7 donors per million.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says while New Zealand has many of the elements of an effective organ donation and transplantation service, more can be done, and the Ministry of Health has consultation underway on how to improve the system.

"This includes raising awareness, standardising the way hospitals identify potential donors and how donation is discussed with families," Dr Coleman said.

One of the suggestions on the table is improving the driver licence system so medical staff are informed if someone has indicated they would like to become a donor.

Dr Coleman said in countries where there are higher rates of deceased organ donation, there's been a far stronger culture around information sharing and people know about organ donation well before they're faced with making a decision.

"These are very sensitive issues that families have to deal with at pretty much the most stressful time of their lives," Dr Coleman said.

"The broader message around increasing donation rates is about changing the culture around donation and making people much more aware of the options, as well as the wishes of their loved ones, at the time that these events occur."

The Ministry of Health has ruled out looking at a "presumed consent" model for deceased organ donation. It also doubts a binding register of consent is feasible.

Consultation runs until the end of July.

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