You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Fewer Aussies using organ black market

AAP logoAAP 6/08/2016 By Evan Schwarten

The number of Australians going overseas for illegal organ transplants has fallen dramatically in the past seven years as donation rates increase and waiting times decline.

Professor Stephen Alexander, a pediatric kidney specialist at the Westmead Children's Hospital, says official figures show just six Australians went overseas for organ transplants in 2014, compared to 20 in 2009.

And he said several of those would been for legal transplants in countries like the United States, rather than developing countries where the black market organ trade is rife.

"It's an issue that existed but its an issue that's on the decline in Australia," he told AAP.

His comments come despite reports suggesting long wait times were forcing Australians to seek illegal transplants in places like China, where prisoners are sometimes executed to provide organs.

Professor Alexander said waiting times had improved since the establishment of the Organ and Tissue Authority in 2009, which has helped to lead a co-ordinated program to get more people to register for organ donation and to make their family's aware of their wishes.

He said the waiting list for kidneys in pediatric units had fallen from between 18 months and two years to between 12 and 15 months.

"I used to have a dialysis unit full of children who were waiting for transplants and I used to see my liver colleagues with children waiting for liver transplants and those waiting lists for us have really gone down dramatically," he said.

"I think that's partly because we've got more organs and better access to organs."

There were more than 700 organ transplants carried out in the first half of 2016, a 31 per cent increase compared to a year ago, while around 1500 Australians are currently waiting for a donor.

Kidney Health Australia says the average waiting time for a new kidney nationally is 3.1 years, down from 3.5 years.

There has also been an increase in living kidney donors, including from altruistic donors who have no relationship with their recipient.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon