First step toward more life-saving organ transplants for New Zealanders

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Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Government is progressing legislation aimed at increasing the number of life-saving organ transplants for New Zealanders through improved donation rates.

The Organ Donors and Related Matters Bill introduced today enables the New Zealand Blood Service to take on the role of a national organ donation service. The Bill also extends in certain situations, the financial compensation for qualifying donors while they recuperate.

“While New Zealand’s organ donation rates are improving, they are still relatively low compared with other countries,’’ said David Clark.

“The Increasing Deceased Organ Donation and Transplantation National Strategy has identified that more can be done to increase donation rates, enabling life-saving treatment for people with organ failure.

“This Bill will amend the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 to enable the New Zealand Blood Service to take on functions relating to organ donation.

“During consultation on the National Strategy it was identified that it was important the national agency is independent of DHBs. The New Zealand Blood Service was viewed as a good fit and well positioned to take on the role.

“This Bill is the first step in the process towards creating a new national organ donation agency which will establish a clinical governance framework and a consistent approach to support best practice across the sector. As such, it will help deliver on the Government’s priority to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

“There is more work to be done on how best to transition services and how the new national agency will work.

“The Ministry will continue to work closely with the New Zealand Blood Service and Auckland DHB, which currently supports Organ Donation New Zealand.

“A key focus is on ensuring that the dedicated service Organ Donation New Zealand staff provide is not disrupted, and their expertise is retained.

“The Bill also amends the Compensation for Live Organ Donors Act 2016, which gives qualifying donors financial compensation while they recuperate.

“While the Act is largely working well, donors who return to work part time are not eligible, nor are donors who could be part of the proposed trans-Tasman kidney exchange. The Bill will amend the Act to allow for compensation in these situations,” David Clark said.

Background

In 2018, there were 62 deceased donors who enabled 192 recipients to receive kidney, liver, lung, heart or pancreas transplants, and many more recipients received tissue transplants. There were also 84 live donor kidney transplants and 2 live donor liver transplants.

The 2017 Increasing Deceased Organ Donation and Transplantation: A National Strategy sets out a number of actions which will aim to:

  • improve public awareness;
  • provide advice and information to support donation conversations;
  • improve registration systems;
  • ensure effective clinical governance;
  • work with the sector to coordinate processes.

There is more work to be done to determine how the National Strategy will be implemented, including the activities that need to be undertaken, and the phasing of implementation. This will be part of the next phase of planning and development.

It is expected that the first key focus for the new national agency will be on ensuring effective clinical governance and working with the sector to coordinate processes.

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