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With just 13.8 donors per million people last year, Australia has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the developed world.

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While that may be the highest figure in ten years, it remains well below other countries, such as Spain - considered world leader with 32 donors per million in 2010.

This week Insight asks why Australians are saying no when it comes to donating organs.

It may be psychological barriers that are stopping patients, and their relatives from saying yes.

But some say Australia has a flawed system. Despite dedicated organ donation teams
in hospitals, potential donors are not being identified and family members are not consulted sensitively - and are sometimes overriding the wishes of their loved ones. 

Meet the Guests

  • Dr Peter Saul

    Dr Peter Saul is an intensive care specialist at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle. He’s travelled to Spain to look at why their organ donation rates are so much higher than Australia’s. In his new role as Hospital Medical Director for the government authority ‘DonateLife’, he supervises the organ donation system in his local health district. 

  • Kevin Rudd

    When he was Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd announced a $151 million reform package to improve Australia’s organ and tissue donation rate. He’s also spoken about his own experience with the organ donor system - when he was in his mid-30s he underwent a heart valve transplant. Earlier this year he had the valve replaced.

  • Mark Colvin

    Mark Colvin is the presenter of ABC Radio’s current affairs program ‘PM’. While on assignment in Africa in 1994, Mark contracted an illness triggering a disease which causes inflammation of the blood vessels. The disease left him with irreparable kidney damage. He’s now on dialysis and on the waiting list for a kidney but has been told it could be up to seven years before he gets a transplant.

  • Oliver Zammit

    Oliver Zammit’s 20 year old son Doujon died in 2008 after being bashed while on holiday on the Greek island of Mykonos. His family decided to donate his organs to Greek transplant patients. A few months after Doujon’s death, the Zammits flew back to Greece to meet the recipients.

  • Kerri Argent

    Kerri Argent’s 19 year old son, Peter, was brain injured in a skateboarding accident three years ago. Peter and the entire family were registered donors. The family members were all aware of Peter’s wishes but when it came to making the decision in hospital they found it extremely difficult to cope.


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