Challenging organ donation myths

July 13, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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The Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) has released a suite of translated DonateLife fact sheets to challenge the common myths and misconceptions that may make Australians reluctant to make a decision about organ and tissue donation.

Yael Cass

Yael Cass

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the Sydney Beth Din, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria and Melbourne’s Jewish Care have all endorsed the DonateLife campaign.

“40% of Australians don’t know if their religion supports organ and tissue donation, and 20% of families that declined donation in 2014 did so for religious or cultural reasons. This uncertainty is one of the key barriers to making a decision, or sharing that decision about organ and tissue donation with loved ones,” said Ms Yael Cass, Chief Executive Officer of the Organ and Tissue Authority.

Extensive consultation with religious and cultural community leaders in Australia has revealed that there are a number of misconceptions that exist in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities about organ and tissue donation.

Common misconceptions that prevail are that people think they are too old or not healthy enough to donate, or that donation will disfigure the body.

Age is not a barrier – people in their 70s and 80s have saved the lives of others through organ and tissue donation. People who smoke, drink or don’t have a healthy diet can also donate. There’s every chance that some of your organs and tissues may be suitable for donation.

Organ and tissue retrieval is performed by highly skilled health professionals and does not disfigure the body. Organ donation is specialised surgery and the donor’s body is always treated with respect.

“While the majority of Australians are supportive of organ and tissue donation, we found that there was a need to make culturally appropriate information available to CALD communities to assist in decision-making,” said Ms Cass.

To date 80 religious and cultural leaders in Australia have signed DonateLife Statements of Support, reflecting their support for organ and tissue donation.

The OTA is releasing a suite of fact sheets in 9 languages (Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Punjabi, Turkish and Vietnamese) to address the misconceptions that persist about organ and tissue donation.

“In 2014, 1,117 Australians received an organ transplant due to the generosity of 378 organ donors and their families. And nearly 4,000 tissue donors enabled more than 5,500 tissue transplant recipients to receive a tissue graft, some receiving multiple grafts. We are pleased with the progress so far and are keen to continue engaging with communities to help them discover the facts about donation.”

The fact sheets are available at



2 Responses to “Challenging organ donation myths”
  1. Jeanne Wheeler says:

    I donate blood every three months.

    And I have been an organ donor forever.

    However, the folk at the blood bank told me recently that nobody wants my organs any more as I am too old. I am 69 y/o and incredibly healthy.

    Is this correct ?

    Jeanne Wheeler

  2. Fiona Sweet Formiatti says:

    Proud of Yael Cass, the vice-president of the Jewish Community of Canberra Inc.

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