Missed opportunity to raise organ donation awareness

Headlines in today’s Advertiser re: injured Adelaide Crows superstar Taylor Walker: ‘Tex gets dead man’s tendon’ and ‘Tex to be dead man walking’ are together a wasted opportunity to promote the benefits of organ donation.

Rather than saying ‘yes, the man died BUT his tendon is going to save the career of an elite athlete – Tex will get a second bite of the AFL-career pie’, the journo is resorting to cheap sensationalism via the ‘dead man’ angle. It’s completely unnecessary: Adelaide footy fans (regardless of team allegiance) will want to read updates on Tex – he’s a player respected across the code, and the ACL injury was a devastating (and possibly career-ending) blow to him and the club.

Last year, I produced a TV current affairs package on organ donation in Australia, featuring interviews with a heart donor recipient. From that experience, I know not enough people are talking about organ donation, nor realise more than major organs can be donated.

You can donate your heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. You can also donate eyes, and tissues such as heart valves, cardiovascular tissue, bone and soft musculoskeletal tissue, and skin.

Australia has the highest transplant success rate in the world, but when it comes to donation, we don’t even make the top 20!

Any opportunity to raise awareness and promote discussion with loved ones (as next of kin can still veto donation even if potential donor legally consented) – especially when it could get more attention (by using an elite, popular sportsman as a recipient and advocate) – should be grabbed with both hands.

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3 comments

  1. Nicci Le Lant

    Absolutely heartbroken when I read the headline yesterday and even today’s is just as bad. I am the recipient of a double lung transplant and only 8 months out. This miracle and I must imply miracle because I wouldn’t be here today if my wonderful donor family hadn’t agreed to the donation. I am sure that ridiculous headlines like this has put people off and has probably put donations back 20 years. I would really like a front page apology from the Editor of the Sunday Mail/Advertiser and the self absorbed journalist Michaelangelo Ricci and the promise to promote organ donation not put people off it.

  2. egrovesy

    Thanks for your comment, Nicci. I’m so thrilled for you, as a successful transplant recipient. So many organ donation stories are from the donor families, with little focus on the recipients. Part of what I was trying to do in my current affairs package was highlight the hope, happiness, and gratitude that just pours out of people who have been given the gift of life. It was certainly an emotional and uplifting experience for me, speaking with and interviewing Chris. Organ donation only seems to get media attention when someone prominent is a donor, or during Donate Life week.

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