And waiting lists for transplants are also down, the AMA says. Western Australia’s waiting list of between 150 and 180 is now almost down to fifty.
The organ donation lobby group ShareLife Australia has criticised a lack of progress under the initiative, for which funding expired at the end of June.
But the AMA Federal Vice President Dr Geoffrey Dobb has told 702 Mornings organ donation rates have gone up from between ten and eleven per million people to between 15 and 16 per million.
Dr Dobb, who is also an intensive care specialist at Royal Perth Hospital, says that as a result, waiting lists were also coming down.
In Western Australia, for example, he said the list had dropped from between 150 and 180 to about 50.
“There are a number of things in place that now imitate best practice around the world,” Dr Dobb said.
“Australia now has dedicated staff who work in the area of organ donation in our major hospitals, similar to the model that they have in Spain for example that has the world leading organ donation rate,” Dr Dobb says.
“(We have) also invested quite heavily in the education of the staff that are involved in organ donation.”
Dr Dobb says the trend of improvement in Australia is equal to the trend in other countries at the top of the organ donation scale.
He also praised NSW government initiatives to encourage organ donation.
Dr Dobb says the system is also getting better at locating organ donors, with an audit of all deaths meaning that fewer potential donors are now missed.
But several 702 listeners expressed fear of being declared dead prematurely in the haste to harvest organs.
Dr Dobb says such fears should be addressed, giving an assurance that Australia has among the most stringent criteria for determination of death.