Human organs and tissues may be donated from both living and deceased donors for transplantation.
In August 2012, the NSW Minister for Health launched the Increasing Organ Donation in NSW: Government Plan 2012. The goal of the Plan is to increase the organ donation rate in NSW.
The NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service provides clinical and operational leadership for organ and tissue donation in NSW and oversees the implementation of Increasing Organ Donation in NSW Government Plan 2012. For detailed information on organ and tissue donation in NSW, including facts and statistics, please visit the NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service.
How does NSW Ministry of Health support organ and tissue donation for transplantation?
The Ministry is responsible for ensuring that the best possible organ and tissue donation services are provided in NSW. The Ministry monitors the performance of the NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service, Local Health Districts, Specialty Health Networks and other agencies. The Ministry also maintains policy and legislative frameworks to ensure that human tissue is used safely, ethically, and effectively. Queries regarding organ and tissue donation should be directed to the Office of the Chief Health Officer.
There are 2 pathways to deceased donation in NSW; organ donation following brain death (irreversible cessation of all function of the person’s brain) and organ donation following circulatory death, (irreversible cessation of circulation of blood in the person’s body, also known as DCD). How the process of DCD works, including the emerging practice of using hearts from DCD donors for transplantation, is explained on Organ Donation After Circulatory Death (DCD).
A deceased donor may be able to donate kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas, heart and intestine as well as tissues such as corneas, bone and heart valves.
In NSW kidneys and partial livers are the most common solid organs donated by living donors. The NSW Tissue Bank also accepts femoral head (bone) donations made by living donors. Other living donation programs include cord blood and bone marrow.
Living donors for a specific recipient (directed donation) may or may not be related to the recipient. Altruistic kidney donation for allocation to any suitable recipient on the transplant waiting list (non-directed donation) is also possible.
NSW Health also participates in the Australian Paired Kidney Exchange program and endorses the Commonwealth Government's Supporting Leave for Living Donors Scheme.
In NSW the donation, retrieval and use of human tissues, such as solid organs and tissue for transplantation from both living and deceased donors is regulated by the Human Tissue Act 1983. Consent is the fundamental principle of all organ and tissue donation. Consent must be valid; it must be freely given and by an appropriately informed person who has the capacity to do so.
Registering your decision about organ and tissue donation
The Australian Organ Donation Register is a single national source of information about organ donation decisions. It allows individuals to record their decisions so that doctors can access information in situations where people die in hospital in circumstances where organ donation is possible. It is important that people discuss their decision with family ahead of time because the family will be asked to confirm a donation decision before donation proceeds. Where families know each other's donation decisions they are more likely to uphold them. Facts about organ and tissue donation to help make an informed decision about whether to become a donor are available on the DonateLife website. You can register your decision on line at the Australian Organ Donor Register or call 1800 777 203 or complete a form at any Medicare branch.