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Tissue Donation Statements Bill

28 September 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:35): The Greens are supportive of this bill. This bill allows the next of kin of a deceased person to request that a tissue donation statement be included on any certificate, issued under the act, certifying the death of a person. The Greens support granting formal recognition of a life-saving gift at the request of the family or next of kin of the deceased.

I want to commend the Hon. Nicola Centofanti for putting this issue on the agenda and for putting this bill forward. It is an important issue that she has highlighted, one that I think will impact many South Australian families, so we do appreciate her advocacy in this regard.

For someone who is seriously ill, an organ or a tissue transplant can mean the difference between life and death, being healthy or sick, seeing or being blind, or being active or never walking again. Transplants enable people to resume an active role in their family, their workplace and their community. Tissue donation includes bones, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, skin, corneas and heart valves and vessels.

While an organ donor can save up to seven lives, a tissue donor can impact the lives of as many as 75 people. Since 2013, more than 38,000 deceased and living tissue donations have been made. Unlike organs, many more people can become eye and tissue donors, as these can be donated following death outside of hospital and tissue can be stored for longer periods of time. Tissues for donation must be removed within 12 to 24 hours after a person dies, and the donor does not need to be maintained on a ventilator.

In 2022, there were 2,748 tissue donors, which is 17 per cent of deceased persons, and in 2021 there were 3,307. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on elective surgeries, including joint replacement surgery, resulting in a decrease in living tissue donations. I understand that eight out of 10 families give consent to donation when their family member is registered to be a donor, but this number drops to just four out of 10 families when the family is unaware that the deceased person had that wish. The decision to donate a loved one's organs and tissues will be a difficult one for many families to make, especially at a time of great loss. The generosity of those families ought to be acknowledged and commended.

I hope that this is one of those instances where we see this house rise above politics and see all sides of this chamber support it. I cannot imagine why there would not be universal support for such a sensible proposition. With that, I commend the bill.