DonateLife WA tells us what happens after registering to be an organ donor

Photo is from shutterstock.
Photo is from shutterstock.

While registering to be an organ donor is easy, the likelihood of you becoming a donor is pretty slim.

For someone to classify to be an organ donor they must be in hospital and be diagnosed as 'clinically brain dead'.

The hospital then works with DonateLife WA to arrange for an assessment process where they find out about the person's medical history.

The agency then liaises with transplant specialists to confirm if organ donation is possible.

DonateLife WA spokesperson from the North Metropolitan Health Service said annually, 1-2 per cent of people that are in the Emergency Department and/or Intensive Care Unit where organ donation at the time of their death may be possible.

Many people may not be aware of this process until it is too late.

Particularly for people who want to die at home.

This was the case for my husband.

He had a terminal brain cancer but was also a registered organ donor.

He also mentioned to me that if it was possible for his brain to be donated for research, then that was his wish.

It made me think, 'what is the point of being on an organ donor list when they make it so hard to donate?'

Jemillah Dawson

I'm not a doctor, but as his carer I could tell that other than his brain, the rest of his body was working pretty well.

So on the surface I thought him becoming an organ donor could be an option.

Another wish of his was to die at home.

I am very comforted by the fact that we were able to fulfill his last wish.

When we knew he didn't have much longer to go, no one mentioned to us about organ donation and what he may have to do for that to happen.

Once he passed away, I spoke to the palliative care nurses about organ donation and they said it was not possible in Bunbury.

Some people may say that I was clouded with grief but I did feel quite deflated when this option was not available.

Another comfort would have been knowing that while I will never have my husband again, he has helped others to survive.

It made me think, 'what is the point of being on an organ donor list when they make it so hard to donate?'

The DonateLife spokesperson said all regional hospitals have supported families to realise organ donation.

"Families are informed of the opportunity for organ donation and provided with information on the donation process by donation specialist staff via tele or videoconferencing," he said.

"The conversation includes the need for people to be transferred to Perth for donation to occur."

The spokesperson said WA Country Health Services and DonateLife WA could facilitate organ donation if they are at the end of their life and was admitted to hospital prior to passing away.

But again, the families need to ask the question in this instance.

The spokesperson said when this occurs in a regional hospital, staff refer the patient to DonateLife WA who manage the assessment process as they would with persons referred for organ donation from metropolitan hospitals.

So it makes me wonder, does something need to change in order to make organ donation easier?

Is the annual 1-2 per cent good enough?

Let me know what you think by emailing

This story Organ donation: how easy is it? first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.