Organ and tissue donation can be a sensitive issue, with the decision to become a donor not always an easy one to make. Cultural influences, religious beliefs, personal and community experiences are all important factors which shape personal views on organ and tissue donation. Given this complexity, it is a subject for which many people feel ill equipped to make a decision or start a discussion about with friends or family.

Discovering and Discussing Organ and Tissue Donation…Together will be officially launched on Thursday May 3 by UOW’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health) Professor Don Iverson, CEO Shoalhaven Local Health District Sue Browbank and CEO Organ and Tissue Authority Yael Cass.

The project will involve a team from UOW’s Centre for Health Initiatives (CHI), Multicultural Health Service and the local Organ and Tissue Donation Coordinator from Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, who will be conducting a range of community activities from May- June 2012 aimed at increasing the number of Greek, Serbian and Macedonian Orthodox community members who have access to appropriate information on organ and tissue donation.

The project comes after CHI’s Professor Sandra Jones and Lyn Phillipson, in partnership with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local District, were awarded a community awareness grant by the Organ and Tissue Authority.

The grant enabled consultation with local community members from the Greek, Serbian and Macedonian Orthodox communities to better understand their views about organ and tissue donation.

The discussions highlighted the questions community members had on the topic as well as their desire for information which addressed these concerns in a culturally appropriate manner. For many, access to resources in their own language was important and participants expressed a desire to understand the views of other community members, as well as the position of the church on donation and transplantation.

Discovering and Discussing Organ and Tissue Donation…Together aims to promote the importance in Greek, Serbian and Macedonian Orthodox communities of individuals talking with loved ones about their beliefs regarding donation.

Educational resources developed for the communities as part of this project will be available from 3 May 2012 at www.donatelife.com.au/orthodoxresources.

The campaign aims not only to provide information but also create opportunities for discussion, help reduce misconceptions, and give people confidence to make a decision and discuss it with their family.

Discovering and Discussing Organ and Tissue Donation…Together will be launched on Thursday March 3 at 12 noon on the top floor of IC Central Building, Innovation Campus, Squires Way, Fairy Meadow.

Video: ANDREW PEARSON
Words: UOW Media

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