AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, today urged Australians to discuss organ and tissue donation with their families over the Christmas break.
"The Christmas holidays can be a wonderful time for family members to enjoy each other's company. It can also be an opportunity for families to discuss important issues such as organ and tissue donation," Dr Pesce said.
"Organ donation can save a life and improve the quality of life for many more people. It's an issue that every family should discuss.
"If you are willing to become an organ donor, you need to let your family know so that they can support your decision if you ever become a potential donor. Even if you have signed up to the Australian Organ Donor Register, donation cannot occur if your family objects.
"Your family doctor will be happy to answer any questions you or your family have regarding organ and tissue donation.
"Once you've let your family know that you would be willing to become an organ donor, it's important to register your wishes with the Australian Organ Donor Register."
Dr Pesce said older people and those with serious medical conditions should not assume their organs or tissue would be unsuitable for donation.
"No one should ever assume that they could not become an organ donor because of their age or medical history. Suitability to become an organ and tissue donor is determined after death, on a case-by-case basis," he said.
"Organs which can be donated include kidneys, heart, lungs, liver and pancreas. Tissues include corneas, heart valves, bone and skin. People can choose which organs and tissues they would be willing to donate."
People who would be willing to become organ or tissue donors can register online at http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/public/services/aodr/.