An Illawarra double-lung transplant recipient and University of Wollongong student has called for calm after a war of words broke out over organ donation in Australia.
Sparking Life founder Jessica Sparks told RadioU this morning the dramatic on-air resignation of TV host and Chairman of the Organ and Tissue Authority Advisory Council yesterday and falling out with Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash was an unfortunate distraction. Ms Sparks cautiously welcomed the Assistant Minister’s announcement of a review into Australia’s organ donation campaign strategies.
“I think the truth around this recent controversy lies somewhere in the middle,”Ms Sparks said.
“I do welcome the review, we’ve made some good progress from a low base over the past five years, but I think there are things we could absolutely be doing better.”
Mr Koche resigned as Chairman of the Organ and Tissue Authority Advisory Council during his Sunrise program on Channel 7 yesterday morning. The Council advises the Federal Government on organ donation.
His resignation followed Ms Nash’s decision to review the national Donate Life campaign. Mr Koche said he had not been told about the review.
“Fiona Nash, get a backbone. You didn’t even ring me as chairman of your advisory council to get my view or even tell me an inquiry was coming,” Mr Koche said.
The Assistant Health Minister said Mr Koche had been informed about the review at least a week prior.
“He was informed by the (Health) Department’s deputy secretary in a phone call on May 20,” Ms Nash’s spokesman told The Australian.
Ms Sparks welcomed the renewed focus on organ donation levels in Australia.
“Anything that means we’re looking at how we improve organ and tissue donation rates and save more lives in Australia is a good thing,” she said.
“I worry that doing a review takes away resources from what we really should be doing which is getting on with the job … but at some point, when you have spent $250 million in five years, you don’t want to keep pouring money into a system without making sure it’s being as efficient and effective as possible.”
One hundred and fifty-nine lungs were donated in Australia in 2014, eight less than 2013.
<small>Photo image: Andrew Quilty</small>