On Monday 1 February 2021, the Ministry for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government released details of the true impact the Coronavirus pandemic had on life-saving organ donation and transplantation rates in 2020.
The findings by the Australian Government Organ and Tissue Authority, state that in 2020 there was a 12 per cent reduction in the number of people who received a transplant and a 16 per cent decrease in organ donors, compared to 2019.
Most significantly, 18 per cent fewer kidney transplants were performed resulting in 153 fewer renal patients receiving the kidney transplant they need. Kidneys make up more than half of organs transplanted and so there have been calls for more people to register as a donor to enable more transplants in 2021.
At the start of the pandemic, the transplant sector took precautionary steps and suspended kidney and pancreas transplant programs from late-March through to mid-May. And since then, hospitals have been faced with logistic setbacks – COVID-19 restrictions, flight reductions and border closures – which affected the national transplant program throughout the year.
Federal Minister responsible for the Organ and Tissue Authority, Mark Coulton, said despite the impacts of the pandemic, 1,270 Australian lives were saved in 2020 through an organ transplant thanks to the generosity of 463 deceased organ donors and their families. He commended the strength and generosity of families who agreed to donation.
Minister Coulton went on to say, “Around 1,650 Australians are waitlisted for a transplant and more than 12,000 others are on dialysis – many of whom need a kidney transplant. The best chance we have to address the challenge of a longer waitlist is to have more Australians say ‘yes’ to donation.”
Transplantation is an effective and well-established treatment that saves lives, restores health and improves quality of life. Receiving an organ transplant is not possible without organ donation.FACT SHEET 2020 donation and transplant outcomes