Older Victorians play a vital role saving dozens of lives a year through organ and tissue donation, but many more could be saved if we all considered and registered our intent to be donors.
Almost half of organ donors are over 55 years of age, but sadly a large number of older Victorians do not consider donating, believing their body is too old or “damaged” to be of any use.
This is absolutely not the case at all – in fact people in their 80s have successfully donated!
As Commissioner for Senior Victorians, my role is to advocate for the best outcomes for our older citizens.
While many transplant recipients fall into this group, on this occasion I want to advocate for the hundreds of Victorians of all ages on transplant waiting lists and urge you all to consider registering to become an organ and tissue donor.
Imagine if you had children or grandchildren that needed a transplant… wouldn’t you move heaven and earth to help and support them?
One in five Australians on the waiting list never receive the organ needed to save their life. Any donation could mean the difference between life and death, or restoring sight, or significantly improving their quality of life.
The sad reality is that only one to two percent of deaths occur in the very specific circumstances where organ donation is a possibility, so it’s crucial we maximise the number of donors by maximising the number of people who have registered to be a donor.
The good news is that very few medical conditions rule you out from becoming a donor, and thorough tests are done at the time pick up any issues.
It is quite amazing what can be donated – more than 10 people can benefit from one donor.
So this is your chance to act – to help give someone the chance of life or a better quality of life.
Once you’ve made the decision, there are a couple of things I would urge you to do.
First and foremost, register your intentions on the Australian Organ Donor Register at donatelife.gov.au or call 1800 777 203.
It’s important to also discuss your decision with your family or carers, so they know your wishes and respect them. Nine out of 10 families say yes to donation when they know their loved ones’ wishes.
And finally, but importantly, I encourage every older Victorian to consider having an advanced care plan laying out their wishes for the future. Make sure this plan includes your wishes to be a donor.
And that’s it – three simple steps that can help make a huge difference not just to the donor recipient, but also their family and friends, for years to come. It’s the perfect gift of life.
Gerard Mansour, Commissioner for Senior Victorians.