The families of patients needing organ transplants will be able to exchange their organs with other families requiring transplants under new laws introduced into State Parliament.
Health Minister Jim McGinty said the Human Tissue and Transplant Amendment Bill 2005 would allow two pairs of living donors and recipients to exchange kidneys or other organs and tissues.
“Often when a person requires a kidney transplant, a family member offers to donate a kidney, only to find out they are not a suitable match,” Mr McGinty said.
“There could be another family in a similar situation who could use that kidney in exchange for a kidney from one of their family members that was compatible to your kin.
“Under current laws, two donors from unrelated families are not able to exchange organs because it is considered to be a contractual undertaking and any commercialisation of organs is regarded as illegal.
“The new legislation will eliminate this unnecessary restriction on live organ donation and give patients with chronic renal failure a better chance of survival.”
The Minister said the new legislation would bring Western Australia into line with other Australian States.
Chronic renal failure is an increasing problem in Australia and the waiting period for a kidney transplant from a recently deceased (cadaveric) donor is between three to five years.
More than 1,400 people are waiting for a kidney transplant in Australia, including 125 people in WA. On average, one person a week in Australia dies waiting for a transplant.
Statistics show that more than 80 per cent of transplanted kidneys are fully functioning after five years, compared with just 34 per cent of patients on dialysis surviving for the same period.
Mr McGinty said the Bill would assist the continuing increase of organ donation rates, which had more than doubled from seven organ donors per million population in 2001 to an anticipated 20 organ donors per million population in 2005.
“Live kidney transplants have several benefits for the patient as they lasted twice as long as cadaveric transplants, required less therapy and could be planned more effectively,” he said.
“Unfortunately, blood group and tissue type incompatibilities prevent 20 to 25 per cent of family members donating their organ to a loved one.
“However, changes in transplant technology mean that the success rate of living unrelated transplants with a good tissue and blood type match is the same as related transplants.
“This legislation will give new hope to many WA patients who have failed to find an organ match from family or friends and have been waiting years for a donor.”
Minister's office: 9220 5000