The most generous gift of all

This time of year is a perfect time to think about giving. As The Charities Aid Foundation World Giving Index 2017 shows, Australia is a generous nation: even if we have slipped from being in the top five most giving countries, nine out of 139 countries still isn’t bad!
But giving isn’t just about money. One of the most generous things people can give is also one of the least talked about. In Australia, 1400 people are on the waiting list for an organ or tissue transplant. A further 11,000 are on dialysis, many of whom would benefit from a kidney transplant. However, only one in three Australians are currently registered to be organ donors, despite the difference it can make to the lives of others.

Organ and tissue donation is a topic that often makes us uncomfortable. Not only does it mean thinking about our own health, but also our own inevitable death, and what comes after. Although women are slightly more likely to be registered to donate than men, there are many myths about organ donation, that might stop us from making the decision to register, including myths that we might be too old, too unhealthy or that our religious beliefs prohibit donating.

These doubts can be even greater for those of us from migrant and refugee backgrounds, who may hold beliefs and uphold cultural practices around health and death that are often left out of the conversation. In fact, concerns that religion rules out organ and tissue donation is a common reason why people hesitate to sign up. Without a tailored approach to promoting organ and tissue donation, a significant number of Australians will miss out on the information they need to make an informed choice.

Importantly, organ and tissue donation is supported by all major religions and is performed in a way that accommodates religious requirements and rituals that take place after death. In addition, it helps to know that organ and tissue donation is not just an option for the dead. Last year, 273 donors were living donors and 510 were deceased organ donors and their families.

Those generous givers saved 1,675 peoples lives, which is not just life changing for individuals, but for their family and friends. As one transplant recipient put it interview, ” اذا احييت شخص احييت الامة كلها (if you give life to one person, you give life to everyone).”

Sure, it might seem like an awkward topic to raise, but starting more culturally tailored conversations about organ and tissue donation means all women can have the opportunity to make informed decisions for ourselves and our loved ones.

MCWH is running multilingual organ and tissue donation education sessions. For further information contact Hoa Pham on 9418 0916 or You can also access information on organ donation in languages other than English on the DonateLife website.