Improving the driver licence donor system is one of many proposed changes to boost New Zealand’s woeful organ donation rates.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced public consultation on ways to increase organ donation from dead people will start on Tuesday, noting New Zealand’s low rates compared to many overseas countries, including Australia.
“While we already have many of the elements of an effective organ donation and transplantation service in New Zealand, we can do better,” he said.
“A suggestion as to how we could better support the hospital team is to improve the driver licence system so medical staff are informed if someone has indicated they would like to become a donor.”
I was staggered to find out medical staff don’t even check the database routinely. They only check it if family ask them to.
A simple first step should be that it is mandatory for the licence database to be checked for all patients who are eligible organ donors.
Other proposed changes included raising awareness, standardising how hospitals identified potential donors and how organ donation was discussed with families.
Standardising is good, if the standard is good. But our standard at the moment seems to be very poor.
The most effective change would be to have the wishes of the deceased made paramount in law. Families should not get a veto. But law changes are outside the terms of reference for the review, so I have little hope of meaningful change.
Statistics showed 93 per cent of families agreed to donate deceased loved ones’ organs if they were on Australia’s register, whereas only four out of 10 families agreed to donate in New Zealand, he said.
So what are the differences between our regimes?