Settlement Guide

How to become an organ donor in Australia

By taking a few minutes to register to become an organ donor, you could improve or save the lives of up to ten different people.

2016 was a record-breaking year for life-saving transplants in Australia, but many more donors are still needed. There are currently around 1,400 people on transplant waiting lists and 12,000 people on dialysis around the country.

The majority of Australians say they are willing to donate organs and tissues after their death, but they haven’t taken all the steps to do it.

Register and speak to your family

The first thing to do is register as an organ donor on the Australian donor register. You can do it online here, and it will only take a few minutes.

You also need to speak to your loved ones and let them know that you’ve registered as a donor. When you are unable to speak for yourself, your family or next of kin are the ones who will need to confirm your decision about donation with the hospital so it will be much easier if they’re aware of your choice.

Register to become a donor here. 

Donate Life
Organ and Tissue Authority

How does it work?

One of the reasons why it’s so important to register as a donor is that very few people will qualify as organ donors when they die. Organ donation is only possible when somebody dies on a ventilator in a hospital, in an intensive care unit, which is only about 1000 people a year in Australia.

Doctor always try their hardest to save the life of a person. It's only when it becomes clear that it's not an option that donation is ever considered.

Dr Helen Opdam, the National Medical Director at the Organ and Tissue Authority, says that the donation process is extremely careful and ethical.

"The donation surgery is done by extremely skilled surgeons," she tells SBS Radio. "The person is treated very respectfully, it's not disfiguring - the person can have an open-casket funeral after their donation."

Dr Opdam also says that "many families get a great deal of comfort knowing that they've honoured the wish of the person that they love and that their loved one has helped other after their death."

Most religions support organ donation

In Australia, all major religions support organ donation. The Organ and Tissue Authority has worked with religious and community leaders to produce helpful resources in several languages. You can find them here.

Donate Life Week

Donate Life Week, from 30 July to 6 August, is a great occasion to register as a donor and have a chat with your family. You can share your decision on social media with the hashtags #makeitcount and #donatelife, to encourage other people to register too.

Life Giving Stories

The event Life Giving Stories will showcase the organ donation stories of five Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. It will be presented at the Bankstown Library & Knowledge Centre, in Sydney on 6 August, from 2 to 4 PM. 

The tickets are free but you need to book here.

Useful links

Register to become an organ donor

Understanding the donation process

Multicultural resources and statements from religious leaders

Five myths about organ donation in Australia

AFL players to promote donating organs

Insight episode on organ donation in Australia

Push for multicultural organ donation ahead of Australian Transplant Games