Organ donation on the up

Though 80 percent of Australians publicly support organ and tissue donation, only 36 percent are registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register. (iStock)

Elle Cecil

Recent statistics released by the Organ and Tissue Authority show that the number of Victorians that registered as organ and tissue donors in 2021 increased by 87 percent compared to 2020.

Almost 90,000 Victorians registered in 2021, while across Australia there were 349,947 new registrants, up from 186,656 in 2020.

Many of these registrations were conducted through Medicare’s Express Plus smartphone app, which most people had downloaded to link their COVID-19 vaccine certificates to their check-in apps.

“Victorians are some of the most generous people in the country. We know about 80 percent of Victorians support tissue and organ donation, but only 22 percent have registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register,” says DonateLife Victoria state medical director, Dr Rohit D’Costa.

“In such a challenging year for our state, it’s been heartwarming to see so many Victorians take the time to register as organ and tissue donors – a decision that could one day save many lives.”

2021 saw 1,174 Aussies receive an organ transplant thanks to the life saving generosity of 421 deceased donors and their families, with 110 Victorian donors.

There are currently around 1,850 Australians on the transplant waiting list, while over 13,000 Australians are receiving dialysis and would benefit greatly from a kidney transplant.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) around 170,000 Australians die per year from a total population of 25.7 million. Organ donation can only occur when someone dies in hospital due to the requirement that organs need to be functioning well to be considered for donation.

Of the approximately 80,000 people that pass away in hospital, only around two percent die in a way where they can be considered for organ donation. The resulting number is 1,250 potential organ donors, which is currently 600 less than the number of people on the transplant waiting list.

When a person passes away in Australia, their family is always asked for consent to organ donation. While around 90 percent of families consent if their loved one was a registered donor, a total of 56 percent of families consented in 2021. This is why it is vital to tell your family that you have registered to be an organ and tissue donor, and that it is your wish to help others once you pass if you can.

“Ultimately, the decision to donate your organs and tissue will come down to your family. We know that 90 percent of families will consent to donation if you are a registered donor,” Dr D’Costa says.

“This number is halved if they don’t know you wanted to be an organ and tissue donor, or you haven’t registered. Therefore, it’s really important not only to register, but to also have the conversation with your loved ones.

Dr D’Costa also urges Victorians who signed up to be a donor via their driver’s license to double check their registration status.

Only in South Australia can you register to be a donor via your driver’s license, though Victoria used to accept these registrations. If you’re unsure whether you’re registered, check online.

Though 80 percent of Australians publicly support organ and tissue donation, only 36 percent are registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register.

Anyone in Australia aged 16 and over can register to become a donor, regardless of medical history or lifestyle.It takes less than a minute to check your status or join the Australian Organ Donation Register.

All you need to do is grab your Medicare card and visit You can also register through the Medicare Express Plus app or by phoning 1800 777 203.