The AMA has urged people of all religions and cultures to discuss organ and tissue donation with their families during DonateLife Week 2013, which commences from 24 February.
AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, said Australia's organ donation rate is increasing, but we should be doing much better.
"The key is getting people to talk more about organ donation - with their family, their friends, and with their doctor," Professor Dobb said.
"We have to get the organ donation message to all sectors of the community."
"The AMA commends the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority's focus this year on faith and culture in order to increase awareness of organ and tissue donation among culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups."
"For some people, their perception, values, and attitude towards death, as well as organ and tissue donation and transplantation, are influenced by a particular religious, spiritual, or cultural belief or value."
"A culturally-sensitive approach that respects the rights, beliefs, perceptions and cultural heritage of individuals is essential when discussing organ and tissue donation or transplantation with individuals and their family members."
"Nearly all religions allow for individual choice or support organ donation if the organs will help improve someone's life."
"Individuals may wish to discuss their particular religion's views on organ donation with their religious or spiritual advisers."
"Ensuring access to culturally appropriate information about organ and tissue donation for culturally and linguistically diverse communities is important to ensure that everyone in Australia has the opportunity to have informed discussions with their family members regarding organ and tissue donation."
"Trained translators, along with culturally and linguistically appropriate material, may be required when providing information to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds."
"Family doctors are a good source of information about organ and tissue donation."
"By increasing Australia's rate of organ and tissue donation, more individuals, and their families, will benefit from receiving life-enhancing organs and tissues."
"This also means that our healthcare system benefits as transplantation of some organs and tissues, such as kidneys and corneas, is cost-effective compared to the expense of providing ongoing treatment for those waiting for a transplant."
"Australia's donor rates can be increased through enhanced public education and awareness of organ and tissue donation as well as increased public confidence in Australia's donation and transplantation system."
"Greater public awareness of the shortage of donor organs and tissues, the opportunities for donation, and the facts about organ and tissue donation should result in more people making the choice to become an organ and tissue donor," Professor Dobb said."
People can register their decision to become an organ and tissue donor at any Medicare branch, or at the Australian Organ Donor Register website to register online, or by calling Medicare Australia on 1800 777 203.
Statistics- (sourced from the DonateLife website):
• In 2012, 354 organ donors gave 1,052 Australians a new chance in life.
• The number of organ donors and transplant recipients in 2012 was the highest since national records began.
• One organ and tissue donor can transform the lives of 10 or more people. • Australia is a world leader for successful transplant outcomes.
• Around 1600 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists.
• Less than 2 per cent of people die in hospital in the specific circumstances where organ donation is even possible.
• In Australia, the family will always be asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased before donation can proceed.
• In Australia, less than 60 per cent of families give consent for organ and tissue donation to proceed.
• The most important thing that helps a family's decision is knowing the wishes of their loved one.
• 44 per cent of Australians do not know or are not sure of the donation wishes of their loved ones.
• The majority of Australians (92 per cent) who are aware of their family members' wishes indicate that they would uphold those wishes.