Organ donation stats

Stuff reports:

People from Wellington and Queenstown are more likely to indicate “yes” to on their driving licences, while those in Wairoa and Kawerau will probably say “no”.

Information provided by the NZ Transport Agency has revealed an almost even split when it comes to ticking the box and leaving it blank.

But drivers in certain regions are far more likely to say yes than others, and Queenstown-Lakes district residents have the highest proportion, with 66.2 per cent indicating they were organ donors.

Wellington was not far behind at 62 per cent, while Kapiti Coast was also high at 59.4 per cent.

At the other end of the scale, Wairoa recorded the lowest level, just 31.4 per cent indicating they were donors. Kawerau was just above at 33.7 per cent, while Opotiki was at 36.2 per cent.

I may be wrong, but I wonder of ethnicity has a significant impact on the donation stats. The towns at the bottom have a high proportion of Maori, and off memory some Maori believe that any interference with the body after (brain) death is wrong, so I would not be surprised.

But even with this indication, the final decision rests with a dead person’s family, who can decline the donation no matter what the licence says. In New Zealand, 1.75 million people say they are donors but last year only 36 families agreed to donate their loved ones’ organs.

Organ Donation NZ clinical director Stephen Streat said this was not because of an unwillingness to donate, but rather the strict criteria that must be met. …

About half the families faced with the decision agreed to donation – a proportion similar to the licence indication figures.

I think this may be misleading. I suspect those who do not indicate a willingness on their licence to be a donor do not even have their families asked, so this stat is really saying that giving families the ability to over-ride the wishes of the deceased reduces the donation rate by 50%.

While cultural beliefs have been suggested as affecting organ donation decisions, Streat said the focus was on each individual situation as it arose, and donation was offered to every eligible person.

“It’s not about religion, culture or ethnicity – it’s about individuals.”

I quite like the idea that priority for receiving organs goes to those who have indicated they would be a donor themselves.

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