Encouraging organ donation in the antipodes: The impact of a high profile "celebrity organ donation on organ donation registration in Australia

Margaret Hay, A Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Objectives Australia’s organ donor rate per 1000 deaths of 1.5 is low by world standards. The demand
for donor organs greatly exceeds supply with almost 2000 people currently listed as requiring an organ
transplant. The publicity surrounding the 2004 premature death and organ donation (OD) of a
prominent Australian sportsman prompted a moderate increase in donor registrations. This paper
describes the findings from a study investigating the influence of knowledge and attitudes toward
organ donation and the impact of a high profile donation on an individual’s decision to register as
an organ donor.
Methods Data collection was via a random phone survey of n ¼ 146 residents of Melbourne (mean
age 45.15 years, SD 16.56) of which n ¼ 73 (50%) reported being registered organ donors.
Participants responded to questions regarding their knowledge of, attitudes towards and communications
around OD. Participants also rated their awareness of the organ donation of the prominent
sportsman, and the impact his donation had on their decision to register as an organ donor.
Results There were no differences between those who had and had not registered as organ donors by
gender, age, or educational level. More registered donors had higher income (2 ¼ 4.400, df ¼ 1,
p ¼ 0.036), reported friends and family as major source of information about OD (2 ¼ 12.422,
df ¼ 1, p ¼ 0.000 and 2 ¼ 4.067, df ¼ 1, p ¼ 0.044 respectively), and had informed their next of kin
of their decision (2 ¼ 29.909, df ¼ 1, p ¼ 0.000). The majority (96%) of the sample were aware of
the sportsman’s OD. Organ donation registration status was predicted by four unique predictors; discussions
with friends as an important source of information about OD, informing next of kin of their
OD decision, willingness to discuss their donor status with family members, and the influence of a
prominent sportsman’s OD on their decision regarding OD.
Discussion The results of the current study indicated that levels of communication with family
and friends are important predictors of OD status, as was the OD of a high profile sportsman.
These finding indicate the need for increased public communication around OD. Celebrity
donations may constitute a viable public health strategy to increase the number of Australians
currently registered as organ donors.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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