Organ Donation

‘I can honestly say that being a transplant recipient is the most I could have ever wished for. I never realised that good health could be so exhilarating, and just normally enjoyable.

My transplant has had a huge impact on my life, and that of my family and friends. I am far more active in everything I do: I love to go walking, I’ve finally learnt to dance, I enjoy cooking and entertaining, and I’ve returned to part-time work. I’m also now an active Member of the Heart Lung Transplant Foundation of Western Australia.’

(Heart and lung transplant recipient, 2013)


Everyday people need transplants, from the very young to the very old. This can be the last resort of lifesaving treatment or for life-improving treatments. This opportunity only becomes available, when someone donates their organs or tissues upon their death. The next of kin can make the choice to donate if the individual’s wishes aren’t known.

Some people need transplants for the following reasons.
  • They were born with a structural abnormality of an organ such as a congenital heart defect or biliary atresia. Biliary atresia is one of the most common reasons that a child might require a liver transplant – the bile duct has failed to develop.
  • They were born with a disease that causes an organ to fail. This might be an inherited disorder such as cystic fibrosis.
  • They have been unlucky enough to develop a disease or illness that caused an organ to fail. For some people, simply catching a cold or flu can result in them requiring a heart transplant for cardiomyopathy, a disease that severely affects the heart muscles’ ability to contract.
  • In some respects, people with kidney failure are a little more fortunate. A dialysis machine can take over some of the functions of the kidney while they wait for their transplant. People with diseases affecting their heart, lung, liver or pancreas do not (at this stage) have biomedical devices available to them to replace the functions of their failed organs. A transplant is their only option.

Fact: Not everyone with end stage organ failure is suitable to receive a transplant – potential recipients are evaluated extensively and only those for whom transplantation is likely to be successful are considered.

While Australia is recognised as a world leader in transplantation medicine, the number of organ and tissue donations in Australia is low by global standards. The national reform program provides an unprecedented opportunity to transform and save more Australian lives.

The Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation is a DonateLife Partner and signatory to the National Communications Charter and Framework. As such the Foundation is entitled to use the DonateLife Partner logo and aims to ensure consistent messaging about organ donation. We fully support the objectives and work of DonateLife. Learn more here.

DonateLife has produced some helpful fact sheets on organ and tissue donation.  Click here for more information.