This week in Australia is the first DonateLife Week from Sunday 20 – Sunday 27 February 2011.

DonateLife Week is Australia’s national awareness week to promote organ and tissue donation.

Australia’s first national DonateLife Week 2011 will ask all Australians to talk to family and friends about organ and tissue donation to ensure their wishes are known.

The biggest hurdle to increasing Australia’s organ and tissue donation rate is the issue of family consent.

When it comes to donation, one in two Australians don’t know the wishes of their family members and one in three Australians don’t realise that family’s consent is always required for donation to proceed.

If all Australians knew the wishes of those close to them, we would have a much higher family consent rate and we could save more lives.

DonateLife Week 2011 comprises national advertising and local community activities.  It is supported by government, community leaders, sporting identities and media.

It is important that all Australian families use family moments as the opportunity to have a memorable conversation about organ and tissue donation.

I acknowledge that starting to talk about organ and tissue donation with loved ones can be difficult and believe the new campaign will go a long way towards normalising the conversation.

I encourage anyone who hasn’t had the discussion with those close to them to do it today.

I am an organ donor myself, I am more than happy to give the  gift of life when I no longer need my organs. I grew up with my grandparents, my grandfather Ken had kidney disease as did all of his brothers who had all died very early on from the disease. He spent the last twelve years of his life on dialysis and eventually passed away at the age of 57. I saw what it was like for someone to live and die from organ failure, anyone who has exprienced this first hand or through a loved one would know that you wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.

I know the difference it can make to not just one life, but many lives to have the opportunity of a chance at quality of life and in many cases an opportunity for life itself.

Goal for the Week

The goal for DonateLife Week 2011 is to encourage all Australians to talk about organ and tissue donation and to discuss their donation decision with the people closest to them.

More information about DonateLife week to help you to Discover, Decide and Discuss is available here.