The Dilema of Organ Transplantation: Opting In or Opting Out
624,900 Australians have added their names to the Australian Organ Donation Register (AODR) maintained by the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) to give a total number of registrants of 5,659,855, an increase of 400,000 on the previous year. Yet our organ donation rate in 2004 was just 11.0 donors per million population (dpmp) and dropped to 9.8 in 2006. This is well below the donation rates of most many comparable countries, including Spain (35.1 dpmp), France (22.2 dpmp) and the United States (21.4). While countries such as these have higher donation rates, Australia’s donation rate has varied little from 10 in 1998 to 11.0 in 2004, dropping by 6% in 2005 and a further 1% in 2006 (Australians Donate, 2007). The Health Insurance Commission estimates that just 6.31% of Australian women and 4.58% of men in the ABS recorded population are registered organ donors (HIC, 2007). As of January 2007, 1780 Australians were awaiting transplantation, an increase of more than 100 from 2005. Currently, waiting time for a transplanted organ ranges from 1 to 3 years, depending on the organ required (Australians Donate, 2005), and 1 in 5 of those waiting will die before they receive a transplant. If Australia could lift its donation rate even marginally, it would benefit thousands of Australians who remain critically ill waiting for organs.Most recently consideration has been given to the contraversial 'opt out' legislative model, and allowing the sale of organs.Multi-cultural Australia has not welcomed these proposals with enthusiasm. There is widespread speculation that the key to solving the problem is the co-ordination process within hospitals, rather than an inherent resistance to the procedure.
Keywords: Organ Donation, Cultural Norms, Health Policy, Social Policy
Dr. Megan Alessandrini
Lecturer, School of Government, University of Tasmania
# Community sector and public policy
# social capital
# Management and structure of non-government organisations
# Feminist theory / Women's policy
# Research and evaluation methodology
# Political theory
She was the chief investigator in an ARC Linkage grant of $215,000: ‘Reading the Social Future of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’. She is also currently on the research team for a NDLERF grant of $375,000 looking drug diversion implementation policy. In addition she was recently a co-chief investigator in the $45,000 local evaluation of the Tasmanian U-Turn program [Young Recidivist Car Theft Offenders Program]. She has extensive experience of evaluation of program delivery in the non-profit sector, including three previous mixed method evaluations of the CSSDP program. Her PhD research, completed in 2001, utilised comparative method and both empirical and qualitative data. This data was used to construct a typology of non-profit organizations and a market orientation scale. The resulting models were used to explain the relationship between human service organisations and government, at both the institutional level and from the perspective of individual organisations. In addition to this, Dr Alessandrini is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Third Sector Research Inc (ANZTSR). She has presented two papers at the 1998 Biennial Conference, one at the 2000 Biennial Conference of ANZTSR, 2 papers at the 2002 ANZTSR conference in Aukland, one in Brisbane December 2004 and one in Adelaide in November 2006. She has also presented refereed papers at the Australasian Political Studies Association [APSA] conferences in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. She has conducted numerous consultancies and contract research projects in the field over the last ten years and written a number of consultancy reports. These have predominantly been focussed on the third, or community/ non profit sector. She has had two refereed articles published in Third Sector Review in 2002 and 2005, one each in Webology, International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences in 2006 and Transfusion Medicine Reviews in 2007.