'A second chance in life': Organ transplants reach 10,000 Aussies


The number of Australians receiving an organ transplant under a 2009 program to boost donations surpassed 10,000 last year.

Two-year-old Andrea Grech is one of more than 10,000 Australian lives that have been saved since the nation's organ and tissue donation program was introduced in 2009.

At just six-weeks-old, the Sydney girl was diagnosed with a rare liver disease that left her jaundiced and having to be tube-fed.

The only option was a liver transplant, and there were months on the waiting list before a match could be found.

Her mother Paola Andrea Grech told SBS News that she still remembers her emotions when she got the call from the hospital.

"Someone out there is giving her a second chance in life".

"It's just amazing. Your heart races. It's mixed emotions, really. You think, 'She's going to have this liver transplant, but, at the same time, she's going through a major surgery.'"

Now, Andrea is as happy and lively as any child. And her mother has not forgotten the generosity of the donor.

"Someone out there is giving her a second chance in life... I wouldn't be witnessing her first steps, her first words, if it wasn't for the generosity of this person," Andrea's mother said.

But the latest report on national organ donation and transplant outcomes showed Australia's numbers are still low, compared with many other countries.

The report said last year, 510 organ donors who died gave more than 1,400 recipients a second chance at life.

More than 270 living donors also gave a kidney or partial liver to save or improve lives.

The national medical director of the Organ and Tissue Authority Dr Helen Opdam said the national organ donation program had saved more than 10,000 lives since its introduction nine years ago.

The national medical director of the Organ and Tissue Authority, Dr Helen Opdam.
The national medical director of the Organ and Tissue Authority, Dr Helen Opdam.

"Since 2009, when the government reform began to boost organ donation and increase transplantation, we've seen a doubling of the number of people who do donate and many more people receiving those life-saving transplants."

Victoria is the nation's leader in organ donation, with 148 donors last year, followed by 135 in New South Wales and 105 in Queensland.

The national consent rate for organ donation is currently just under 60 per cent, but the Organ and Tissue Authority said it would like to see that increase to 70 per cent.

That would lift Australia's world ranking in organ donation from 17th to the top 10.

Dr Opdam said people can easily register to become organ donors online.

"We live in a very generous country. I think many people just haven't thought about donation or haven't taken the trouble to register. We know that, when someone's registered, then our consent rate goes up to 90 per cent."

Join the Australian Organ Donor Register at register.donatelife.gov.au

Donors by states in 2017

Queensland - 105 donors

NSW - 135 donors

Victoria - 148 donors

South Australia - 32 donors

Western Australia - 54 donors

Tasmania - 19 donors

NT - 3 donors

ACT - 14 donors

- with AAP

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