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Free funerals for organ donors, says advocate

Published: 3:23PM Saturday June 09, 2012 Source: ONE News / Newstalk ZB

Government-paid funerals for organ donors is one idea being floated to encourage Kiwis to donate.

Andy Tookey from GiveLife NZ, a organisation that advocates for a more effective organ donor system, says those who donate need to be rewarded.

In a statement released today, Tookey said he believes organ donors funerals should be paid for by the Government.

"More people would give more consideration to being an organ donor if they thought it would take the financial burden off their family at an already traumatic time," Tookey said.

His comments come after Health Minister Tony Ryall announced earlier this week a $4 million budget for boosting the number of organ donations.

Two million would be spent over four years to increase training and support for intensive care health professionals to identify dying patients who might become donors, as well as provide greater support for their families.

Another $1.75 million would be invested to increase "live" organ donations, which involves the employment of dedicated staff who would guide people making the decision to become donors.

A further $250,000 would be used to explore the option of establishing a national donor exchange scheme.

Last year 186 people received transplants in New Zealand.

But, Ryall said there are "many people are still waiting for organs to be donated in order to have a transplant - over 600 for kidney replacements alone".

Tookey said around half of families choose not to donate their loved ones organs, so the Government needs to focus on the other half.

He said there should be focus on more radical concepts, such as a 'opt-out' donor register rather than the current 'opt-in' one.

Tookey said around  52% of drivers have 'donor' on their licence, which is how New Zealanders can currently agree to become a posthumous donor.