In the hours after a horrific accident that left Rob Clemmens’ wife Katie with no chance of survival, he made a decision that would go on to save the lives of strangers.
The couple of 34 years had never spoke about organ donation but he knew his wife, who dedicated her life to the care of others as a flight attendant and nurse, would also want to want to help others in her death.
“The profound sadness of losing a loved one is somewhat compensated by the knowledge that others have benefited and will hopefully lead to better and longer lives,” Mr Clemmens said, surrounded by his daughters Isabella and Emily.
The mother of two was among 454 Australians who donated their organs last year and 1224 people went on to receive a transplant.
The number of people who donated their organs increased by eight per cent compared with 2021 but remains about 15 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.
There’s also been a five per cent drop in the number of families agreeing to organ donation since 2019.
“While the numbers we’ve announced today have been encouraging, many more lives could be saved if more families said yes when asked about organ donation,” intensive care specialist Dr Rohit D’Costa told reporters at the Royal Melbourne Hospital on Tuesday.
Border restrictions, the risk of immunocompromised patients being exposed to COVID-19, restrictions on families visiting hospitals and other logistical challenges are believed to have contributed to the declining number of donors.
About eight in 10 families who knew their loved one was a registered donor agreed to the surgery, compared with about four in 10 for those who didn’t know their loved one’s wishes.
Federal Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney had many tough conversations about organ donation during her career as a nurse for two decades and asked Australians to bring up the topic within their own families.
“Have that amazing conversation with your family so that when your family has a conversation with the wonderful nurses and intensive intensive care, they know to say yes,” Ms Kearney said.
Australians can register to become an organ donor through MyGov or DonateLife.
(Australian Associated Press)