The importance of making your wishes known

A man and a woman, both wearing shirts and holding posters that promote DonateLife Week.
Hospital Medical Director for Donate Life Dr Ravi Sonawane and RGH DonateLife Clinical Nurse Specialist June Boyd
July 30, 2018

Rockingham General Hospital (RGH) has been facilitating the organ donation process for nearly four years, but each of us can make a difference this DonateLife Week (29 July to 8 August).

In 2014, RGH became the first non-tertiary public hospital to be involved in the organ and tissue donation retrieval process, allowing the process to take place closer to home for patient’s families.

Hospital Medical Director for Donate Life Dr Ravi Sonawane said the hospital’s role is to have a sensitive conversation with the families whose loved ones have recently passed and provide them with information about organ donation.

“Our role is not to convince the families, but to ensure they have all the information required to make an informed decision,” Dr Sonawane said.

“From our experience and research, families are much more likely to consent if they were aware of their loved one’s wishes beforehand.”

In fact, only 45 per cent of families will consent to organ donation when their loved one’s wish was not registered online or it was not something that was ever discussed. This compares to a 96 per cent consent rate if their wishes were known.

“In the moments following the passing of a loved one, it is much easier for families to comply with a known wish rather than make a new decision,” Dr Sonawane said.

ICU consultants are specially trained to have a conversation about organ donation with families and there are plans to expand this training to ICU clinical nurses.

In 2017 this training enabled clinicians to approach the families of 80 per cent of eligible patients, well above the national average of 67 per cent.

Consultants and registrars at Peel Health Campus (PHC) Emergency Department are also provided with education about the organ and tissue retrieval process. This allows patients who are potential organ donors to be transferred from PHC to RGH ICU so the family can be supported throughout the process.

RGH DonateLife Clinical Nurse Specialist June Boyd said DonateLife Week was a reminder of the importance of making your wishes known, whether that is being a donor or not.

“Having the discussion with your family will help make a very difficult time a little easier if they know your wish,” June said.

“If you have ever thought of becoming an organ donor but have never registered your decision online, then make DonateLife Week the time to do it. It only takes a minute.”

For more information about DonateLife and to record your choice on organ donation, visit the DonateLife website (external site).