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

M. Hay, A. Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


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
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2005
EventAnnual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society 2005: Enhancing Individual, Family & Community Health - Galway, Ireland
Duration: 1 Aug 200530 Sept 2005
Conference number: 19th


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society 2005
Abbreviated titleEHPS 2005

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