Monday, 8 February 2016
Private Members' Business
China: Organ Harvesting
I am pleased to rise and support the motion from the member for Fremantle. I congratulate her on her interest in this area and for speaking up against the practice of forced organ harvesting and the trafficking of organs worldwide. I note that the World Health Organization estimates that currently 10 per cent of all transplants worldwide are the result of trafficking.
But there are just a few comments that I think need to be made in relation to point (f), where the member for Fremantle's motion 'urges the Chinese government to increase efforts to set up an organised and efficient national register of organ donation and distribution and to cooperate with requests from the United Nations special rapporteurs and other international bodies and governments for investigations into the system'. That is correct, but if we are going to lecture the Chinese government about how they should set up an organ donation scheme we need to make sure that we have our own house in order. Sadly, our organ donation programs here in Australia are far below where they should be.
Mr Deputy Speaker, here are some numbers to give you an idea of how we compare internationally. Currently we are ranked only 22nd in the world by rates of organ donations. We are a long way back, at 22nd. The best way to measure organ donation rates in a country is by deceased donors per million of population. The leading nation in the world is Spain, which in 2014 had 35.7 deceased donors per million. But Australia, down at 22nd position, only had 16 deceased donors per million of population. That is less than half.
When we are doing so poorly, it is very difficult for us to come in here and lecture China. In fact, because our rate of donation is so low, it is estimated that it is costing Australia around 55 deaths every year, with over 1,000 other people suffering on dialysis, suffering through waiting on the organ donation list. We should be doing and we could be doing so much better. We need to make it a national priority to lift, and lift dramatically, the rate of organ donation in Australia.
I would suggest that it is a moral requirement of all Australians to donate their organs. If we are to live here in Australia and enjoy the benefits of the sacrifices of past generations, if we are to enjoy all the benefits of scientific discovery, modern hospitals and medical services that we have available to us, we have a moral obligation to donate our organs rather than see them being cremated or buried with us.
The other issue we have is that obviously something has gone dramatically wrong with our organ donation program. We know that $240 million has been spent since 2008 on the implementation of a program to lift our organ donation rates to try and get them somewhere up around world's best practice, and yet we are still less than half of where the nation of Spain is. What that means is that 1,200 Australians every year are missing out on a transplant because our rate of organ donation is so low as compared with Spain.
I congratulate the member for Fremantle. I concur with the comments in her motions, and the intent of her motions. But before we can lecture any nation in the world we must get our own house in order when it comes to organ donations.