Organ donation to be recorded on ACT death certificates in Australian first


In an Australian-first, organ and tissue donations will be acknowledged on death certificates in the ACT. 

From today, families of organ donors will have the option to have their loved one’s donation recorded on the death register and on the donor’s death certificate.

Families can also request a letter from the Chief Minister acknowledging the donation.

“While there are a number of ways in which organ and tissue donation is acknowledged, families have consistently stressed to me that there would be value in having further formal options to have their loved one’s gift recognised,” said ACT Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne.

DonateLife ACT agency manager Nadia Burkolter said the decision means organ donors will get the formal recognition they deserve, and families may be brought some comfort.

“We’re really proud here in the ACT that it is an Australian first and we’re really happy to be part of that and certainly we think other jurisdictions… should consider the same,” she said.

The acknowledgement on the death certificate will read, “The deceased gave a gift of life, generously donating organs/tissue”. It can be requested at the same time or separately to the letter from the Chief Minister.

Ms Cheyne said the acknowledgement is optional and not time limited, meaning those who have donated organs in the past will be able to have their donation acknowledged and death certificate reissued at no extra cost.

Families will need to request a donor confirmation letter from DonateLife ACT before they make their application.

Ms Burkolter said she hopes the ACT’s decision will prompt important discussions about organ donation in the ACT and around the country.

“I would say only 25% of eligible Canberrans are registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register (AODR),” Ms Burkolter said. “There’s always more people waiting for transplants than there are organ donations available.

“And we know for a fact that if someone is registered on the AODR and they’ve had that conversation with their family then the decision for families at that terrible, sad time, is made that much more simple… in that they know their loved one’s wishes.”

To apply for donor acknowledgement, visit the Access Canberra website. To register on the AODR, visit the DonateLife website.

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Featured image: Jamila Toderas.