A member of the Lakes Māori Health team believes making organ donation mandatory in New Zealand is not feasible.

Eru George said it had to be a decision made by an individual after discussion with loved ones.

"Before anyone, particularly Māori, commit to being an organ donor they must talk to their whānau first," George said. "Otherwise family, on the day, can overturn a decision and refuse to allow the organs to be removed."

He said it was an issue faced by clinicians and one that caused frustration, "especially for those who do not have an understanding of cultural protocols".


"If the discussions are not had and the family not happy, it ultimately takes away the opportunity for a person to make their own decision."

However hundreds of Kiwis have chosen to support Auckland woman Jessica Manning, 25, who has started a petition to make organ donation mandatory.

Manning has been told she will die within two years if she does not have a double organ transplant. She is hoping the petition will start families talking about whether or not they want to be organ donors.

Even though the number of people donating organs in New Zealand has doubled over the last five years, Organ Donation NZ said more were needed.

On average, there were 550 people waiting for an organ transplant at any one time and the largest and longest wait was for kidneys.

Rotorua heart recipient Wiremu Keepa said while he sympathised with Manning, he did not support mandatory organ donation.

"I know from experience where this young woman is coming from," Keepa said.

"Although I was fortunate enough to be fit and well right up until I was put on the list - at that point I was given three months to live.


"I'd gone up to the cemetery and picked my plot, I'd had the talks I needed to have with family, I was prepared to die. But I was one of the lucky ones."

Keepa said as soon as something became mandatory people did a 180 degree turn in the opposite direction.

"I would like to see people from Organ Donation NZ and the Heart Foundation spreading more information about donation. I've told them Māori people won't come to them and ask questions, they need to get out there and share information.

"And the best place to korero is on the marae."

He said he also supported what George said in regard to talking with whānau.

"You really have to get that sorted otherwise what can happen is tantamount to a dying person's wish being refused - when the family say no."