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Review aims to lift organ donations rates

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced the terms of reference for a review looking into how deceased organ donation rates in New Zealand can be increased.

“Although overall donation rates have increased in recent years, New Zealand still has relatively low rates compared with other countries,” says Dr Coleman.

“Our donation rate is around 10 per million people compared with 16 per million people in Australia. Spain has the highest rate at 36 per million people.

“In New Zealand there were 46 deceased organ donations carried out last year, up from 36 in 2013.

“We need this rate to increase further to help the 700 people accepted for a kidney transplant and around 40 people for liver, cardiac or lung transplants.

“The Ministry of Health led review will look at current practices and trends in New Zealand, along with recent initiatives to increase organ donation and transplantation rates.

Minister of Health Dr Jonathan Coleman

Minister of Health Dr Jonathan Coleman

“It will also consider features of higher performing organ donation systems overseas and identify issues within New Zealand that may be impacting donation rates.”

Budget 2014 allocated $4 million over four years to set up a National Renal Transplant Service to increase the number of live kidney donor transplantations. The funding covers donor liaison co-ordinators and continuation of the New Zealand Kidney Exchange programme.

Last year’s funding increase builds on the $4 million invested in Budget 2012, which included $2 million to Organ Donation New Zealand over four years for increased support, coordination and education for staff in intensive care units in relation to deceased organ and tissue donation.

This includes $1.8 million is being spent over three years to fund the Clinical Research and Effective Practice Foundation (now the Middlemore Clinical Trials) to help overcome barriers to live donor kidney transplantation in Pasifika and Maori patients.

Initial advice on the review is expected to be completed in March next year. A copy of the Terms of Reference is available on the Ministry of Health website, here.

A Private Member’s Bill, which proposes increasing financial support for living donors after a transplant, is currently being considered by Parliament.

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