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Organ donors needed in crash zones

The Coffs Coast, the epicentre of major NSW crashes, needs greater organ donation supply.
The Coffs Coast, the epicentre of major NSW crashes, needs greater organ donation supply.

PACIFIC Highway upgrades have made the Coffs Coast the epicentre for serious crashes in NSW and there's now a lifesaving need for Coffs Harbour Base Hospital to accept greater organ donations.

That's the call from Robert Herkes, State Medical Director of the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority.

Mr Herkes has called for northern NSW hospitals to been granted expanded capacity to accept organ donors.

"The accident epicentre used to be Taree, now it's moved further and further up the coast," Mr Herkes told the media in a statement. 

Coffs Harbour Hospital treated two donors last year and four in each of the two previous years.

Port Macquarie Hospital meanwhile, has treated only seven donors in 25 years, and Lismore and Tweed have similar low donor rates.

In positive news, Mr Herkes says the NSW Police Force has agreed to provide lights and sirens escorts for surgeons flying within the state to retrieve organs.

The authority is also engaged in discussions with Qantas to allow organs, packed in an esky, to travel as hand luggage instead of in the hold - saving precious time.

Mr Herkes said the authority wants government to end NSW's current donor consent conducted through drivers licensing and move to a national registration organised through Medicare.

He said a proposal on the licence issue, and whether families should be allowed to override a relative's written permission to donate their organs, is before cabinet.

A Roads and Maritime Services spokeswoman said the proportion of people who said they would not donate organs fell from 31% to 27 % between 2007 and January this year.


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