Campaign calls for more organ donors

By Sandra Conchie

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HOPEFUL: Sisters Nikki Reynolds-Wilson (left) and Kristie Purton both suffer from cystic fibrosis.PHOTO/FILE
HOPEFUL: Sisters Nikki Reynolds-Wilson (left) and Kristie Purton both suffer from cystic fibrosis.PHOTO/FILE

A Tauranga woman who has been waiting for a lung transplant for almost a year says changes need to be made to increase the rate of organ donors in New Zealand.

Last year, Nikki Reynolds-Wilson and her older sister, who are both battling cystic fibrosis, embarked on more than two months of good deeds to help raise awareness of the disease.

The women will do it all again as they began yesterday 65 Days of kind acts to strangers.

Last week the Government launched a public consultation document outlining a number of proposed changes aimed at increasing our organ donor rates.

Tauranga mother Mrs Reynolds-Wilson said she had been on the lung transplant waiting list for 11 months, and knew the clock was ticking as she waited for this precious gift.

The petite 25-year-old and her 32-year-old sibling, Kristie Purton, were born with the inherited condition cystic fibrosis - an incurable disease.

Mrs Reynolds-Wilson said her condition had advanced to a stage where she was now on the "active" donor waiting list and her older sister was being assessed to go on the waiting list.

"I've been told I could have to wait between two weeks to two years, but given my size and A-negative blood type there are no guarantees an appropriate donor will become available any time soon," she said.

"I'm waiting for little lungs, a petite woman's or a child's would probably do."

Mrs Reynolds-Wilson said her lungs were working at between 20 and 30 per cent capacity, and her older sister's lung function at about 30 per cent.

"Receiving the gift of new lungs would absolutely transform my life, and the lives of my family."

Mrs Reynolds-Wilson said it was clear that there needed to be an official organ donor register and a nationwide campaign to encourage more people to have that conversation with their families.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said that included ways to raise awareness, standardising the way hospitals identify potential donors, and also how donations were discussed with families.

The Government-led consultation followed a Ministry of Health review into the rates of liver, heart, kidney and lung donations in the country, which were low by international standards.

There are currently 11.8 organ donors per million people - just over half the rate of donations in Australia.

Improving our driver's licence system so medical staff were informed if someone indicated they were a donor was also up for discussion - that could mean intensive care doctors were told if a dying person was an organ donor.

Six out of 10 families overturned their relative's decision to allow their organs to be taken.

A spokesperson from Organ Donation New Zealand said there were 53 deceased organ donors in 2015 - the largest number ever in the country - but there were many more patients on the waiting list.

The Ministry of Health was seeking feedback on proposals based on findings from the initial phase of the ministry's review of options.

Submissions can be made by email to by July 29.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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