Editorial: Organ donation, we need to talk about it

A HEART FOR HANNAH: Sister Katie Whitton-Ahoy and Hannah Whitton, who is in the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne receiving care.

A HEART FOR HANNAH: Sister Katie Whitton-Ahoy and Hannah Whitton, who is in the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne receiving care.

MOST of us will never have to wait on a phone call that means the difference between life and death.

But, for the 1400 Australians on the waiting list for an organ donor, patience becomes routine.

Organ donation is something we need to talk about, with our families and our friends.

These are the people that will ultimately make the decision to confirm a donation for a loved one.

As Hannah Whitton’s family from Armidale recently learned, that donation is a tremendous gift born of a another family’s sadness.

It’s a decision that 503 Australian families made last year, giving 1447 a new lease on life.

At just 10-years-old, Hannah Whitton has spent the last eight months in hospital waiting for the news that she had a new heart.

The agonising wait for that phone call ended last month, and Hannah was sent straight to the operating theatre where doctors worked to save her life for ten hours.

Hannah will celebrate her 11th birthday next week, and many more after that because of the kindness and generosity of an anonymous donor.

She will spend the next few months in The Royal Children’s Hospital recovering with her mother by her side.

Unfortunately, only one to two per cent of people die in hospital in the specific circumstances where organ donation is possible.

The circumstances to donate tissue are even less limited.

The heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestine and pancreas are all organs that can be transplanted.

Bone, tendons, heart valves and tissue, ligaments, skin and parts of the eyes are tissues that can be donated.

For one million Australians, there were just 20.8 donors last year.

Almost 70 per cent of Australians are willing to become organ and tissue donors.

But, considering the special circumstances a person must pass away under in hospital to be eligible to donate, we need the extra 30 per cent to step up to the plate.

That’s why it’s so important for those of us that still can have the conversation to talk about our wishes and maybe save a life.

Registering to become a donor takes just five minutes. I know, I did it after sharing Hannah’s story.

For information on organ and tissue donation, visit register.donatelife.gov.au.