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Thursday, 2 July 2015

Pam Laird on Organ Donation

 Is There Anyone There?


Recently I was part of a discussion re the success or otherwise of Organ Transplant in New Zealand. There are a number of aspects to this not-so-well publicised act of public benevolence.

  1. Donor
  2. Recipient
  3. Availability/condition of organ
  4. Information
  5. Consent (both parties)
  6. Ethics
  7. Hospital/surgeon availability
  8. Racial/family taboos
  9. Payment or not. This list is only a small section of a highly debatable/ emotional topic.


            My concern is the ability or otherwise of any given hospital to deal with what would be a highly technical and time-fragile surgical procedure.

            Judging by the recent public airing of the topic, it is apparent that given all the above conditions are positive and a go-go, if the hospital doesn’t have a theatre available or is not fitted out for the purpose, or even worse, there is no recognised team on tap, all optimistic plans may simply fail at that point.

            The second option becomes the transport of the patient or the organ(s) to a more up to the minute specialist centre. If any one of the above requirements is challenging, at this point the next essential step is the viability of the organ. This depends on the pre-death condition of the donor, the type/viability of the organ and the condition of the recipient.

            None of this takes into account the weather for flights, the traffic at either end, the mobilisation of the team and the theatre. In other words, time is of the essence and I suspect in many places in NZ this might be impractical.

            My question is… With New Zealand holding one of the lowest rates of deceased organ donation in the Western world, ie 8.7 donations per million people compared to say Australia's 13.5 and the UK's 16.4, is this the problem? That because of transport difficulties we no longer hear of miraculous transplants in any number so the whole idea has fallen below the population’s line of vision?

            Could it be, we’re not geared up to clear the flight paths and highways in whichever arena is demanded so these precious gifts can make it ‘without let or hindrance’ to save the life, for example, of one of our people in distress?

            I do understand that all of the points made above can cause their own problems but if all is viable and we don’t have a rapid joining together of donated organ and ailing patient then that is a shameful state for our country to be in.

            A second reading of the ‘Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill’ (Party Vote) put forward by Dr Jackie Blue (National) was defeated in November 2007 by 70 noes to 49 ayes

            Please, can Parliament get this Bill back on the table for what would hopefully be a more informed and philanthropic decision for New Zealand and New Zealanders to aspire to.

Pam Laird

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