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Katie Tookey's rare liver condition means that eventually she will need to go onto a waiting list for a liver transplant. Katie's father Andy has taken a long, hard look at New Zealand's current organ donor system and believes it's in need of major improvements in terms of format, administration and public education. Welcome to GiveLife.org.
Looked at your driver's licence lately?
Are you a potential organ donor? When you applied for your Photo ID Driver's Licence, did you tick the box to permit -- if appropriate -- removal and transplantation of your kidney, liver or other body part in the event of your sudden death?
Believe it or not, a large number of New Zealanders can't remember (until they check their licences) if they did or didn't agree to becoming a posthumous organ donor. Many say they meant to, or would have, but somehow overlooked that action at the time.
It isn't top of mind. There is no pre-conditioning publicity; and little or nothing prompts people to focus on the organ donation option at the time and place of completing the driver's licence process. Yet the only way to register intent to be organ donor in this country is via that process.
It's an afterthought, tagged onto a totally unrelated action, and administered by a department concerned solely with transport regulation and safety. The licence-based system also effectively cuts out non-drivers, including all those aged under 15 -- regarded as the best donors.
The organisers of this Web site believe that this state of affairs is a major reason why New Zealand has the lowest organ donor rates in the western world -- just 10 organ donors per million people. Compare that to Spain, with 35 donors per million people.
In 2006 there were just 25 organ donors in New Zealand, down from an average of 40 donors a year prior to 2005. At 40 donors a year we were at the bottom of developed countries for the number of donors we have. Now with just 10 donors per million of population we are between Iceland and Mexico for our donation rates.
It gets worse. Even if you did consciously agree to be an organ donor (and that agreement is registered on your driver's licence) It turns out that it is not legally binding. In the event of your death your driving licence is not even checked, nor is the LTSA database. Your family is asked what they want to do with you irrespective of any advanced notification of your wishes.
It is not just family who can veto your wish! Under the current law people who are not even related to you can object to your wish to be a donor. If that happens their wish will override yours...
It's not a majority vote either. If at the time of your demise you had said you wanted to be a donor and ten of your family standing around your bedside are kind enough to agree to it also, but then a long lost cousin you haven't seen for 15 years phones the hospital to object then his wish will override yours and you will not become a donor.
You can't even specify which organs may or may not be taken on your driving licence. This may be deterring a number of potential donors who would be happy to allow certain organs to be taken, but not others.
What's the big deal? Giving life or improved quality of life to people who desperately need vital organ transplants. By making positive, compassionate use of healthy organs from other people who, tragically but fortuitously, no longer need them.
When you die you only have three choices of what to do with your organs. You can bury them, cremate them or save the lives of up to seven people.
Katie Tookey -- is one Kiwi whose prospect of many happy returns; will one day require the gift of someone's no-longer-needed liver. Her plight was the inspiration for the GiveLife campaign.
But our cause is much bigger. We seek popular public support to prompt the relevant authorities to establish a practical, pro-active programme of education, publicity and effective, donor-friendly processes. Objective: to ensure that no New Zealander, young or old, need ever risk missing out on the chance to receive a life-saving or life-enhancing organ transplant, due to a shortage of suitable, registered donors.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about the current situation, and to study our proposals for what we believe is the kind of organ donor system a humane, caring society like New Zealand should be implementing!
Please also visit our sister site, www.lifesharers.org.nz and help raise the organ donor rate by becoming a member