I decided to share some of my thoughts about Organ Donation, frankly a subject that is not often discussed. I have a gorgeous little granddaughter soon to be 7 years old. She was born with hyper active kidneys meaning that they cleaned out everything including her mother’s antibodies protection. This was a traumatic situation caused by one hereditary gene, a 1:100,000 chance of both her parents having this gene. Thanks to the wonderful Doctors in our “Starship Hospital” she is well and healthy whilst waiting for a suitable donor. At age 4 it was decided to remove both of her kidneys as taking one would not stop the problem. So far she has been offered 4 kidneys thanks to wonderful donors but each time something was not right, the kidneys having then been available to other children thanks to the wonderful far thinking donors. With a small child and a consequently small space to fit a kidney, larger adult kidneys just don’t fit and one was a conjoined kidney, perfectly healthy but large and impossible to be used. She still waits and gets on with her life scuttling around like any other child. She thinks everyone must have pipes attached to themselves. She has dialysis each night for 10 hours whilst she sleeps with injections etc all handled by her father (my son) to handle this complicated task, enabling her to do the things any other child does during the day. She eats very little, all is provided for her in a drip feed each night and although she is encouraged to try eating various foods, in general she doesn’t enjoy the taste, something to do with having no kidneys. It is we are told something which will return once she has functioning kidneys once more. As she continues to grow, so does the space for a larger kidney, making a donor kidney easier to become available. I cannot say enough thanks to those wonderful donors who made the decision to provide organs so others may have a better life.
It is presumed by many New Zealanders that ticking Donor in their drivers licence settles the matter. This however is not correct.
The Donor on your licence can be over ridden by grieving family in the stressful time of the person passing. Your driver’s licence can give an indication of your wishes but there is not an “Official Organ Donation Register”. This I believe is something which needs to be remedied by our Parliament and by legislation, the sooner the better, so you can “register your wishes” well in advance. It will save the traumatic situation which often occurs with the sudden passing of a family member. The grieving family are asked to make this important decision, often delaying to the point where a donation is out of that limited golden time. As a former retired Member of Parliament I have decided to discuss this with current MPs to see what can be done to resolve this delicate issue.
At present the only safe way is to have your donor wish included in your will. Time is of great importance in harvesting an organ, and most organs only have 48 hours (the golden time), to be viable organs after the donor has passed.
So who gives permission? At present following your death a Doctor will ask your family whether they know if you wanted to be a donor or not. This is why it’s very important to have this discussion with your family and get the matter tied up well in advance. I am a donor and my family know I want to help someone after I pass, something now very important to me, when I consider the donors who have been there for my granddaughter. Organs and tissue which can be donated in New Zealand are obviously dependant on your age, but surprisingly many organs and tissues are still valuable, at any age. Medical history is also important as is the condition of your heart, up to 65 years; heart valves up to 60 years; lungs up to 70 years; liver all ages; kidneys all ages; pancreas up to 45 years; eyes from 10 to 85 years; skin all ages. All these organs and tissues can be donated in New Zealand.
Because we are getting on in age both my wife and I are donating skin as our contribution; there is a huge demand for skin as the preferred dressing for burns injury, and other organs they wish to harvest are all subject to our medical history.
I had my first Covid Injection last week and its worth spelling out just what is involved as there is so much rubbish talked about the process. I am in the “High risk age group” even though I am still working a normal week. In fact getting the protection is even more necessary for me as I do a majority of my business overseas. So what happens?
I received a call on my cell phone asking me to call a number for an appointment. A pleasant lady answered promptly and asked me for my details and asked where I would like to go, giving me two options. I chose Highbrook in South Auckland since I live in the south and getting there was quick on the Southern Motorway. She also asked me to take with me an ID (drivers licence). The lady sent me an email giving me a confirmation of my appointment time and appointment date, suggesting I should arrive earlier because of the numbers being processed. On the day I arrived I was greeted with hundreds waiting in cars. So I parked my car and walked to the reception line, which moved steadily to the reception counter. I gave my name and the operator looked me up on screen and marked my Known Medical number on my form. A sticker was placed on my shirt with my name and No 1, which indicated first injection. I walked through into another room with several desks and operators this took about 5 minutes. The operator took my form and waved me through to a line similar to the queue at the airport. In around 10 minutes I had moved up the line, which had chairs spaced along the line for those who need to sit down. At the top of the line I was directed into a booth with a cheerful pharmacist. She checked my name and details. I rolled up my sleeve and she injected me into the top muscle of my right arm (I didn’t feel a thing). I then waited for 20 minutes in a waiting room after which I was approached by a Doctor, who asked how I felt, (good as gold) and I was told I could leave. That was it! Less than having blood taken just a little slower as you needed to wait in case there is any reaction. In our society there is always someone who reacts to the flu injection or even an antibiotic injection but the majority of thousands have no reaction whatsoever. The following day I received the appointment for the second injection in 3 weeks. The operation was crowded mostly by people coming in without appointments (Walk in’s) which added further delay to those with appointments. I didn’t however see anyone turned away, which spoke well for the organisation of the operation. I could feel where the injection was just faintly for the rest of my day. I had a great sleep and have felt nothing since. I have no feeling for or against the vaccination but with Covid all over the world I would rather have the two injection course and feel comfortable to go back overseas for my business. In the long term I am positive the antibodies from this vaccination will make me less susceptible, and that has to be great.
Trevor Rogers is a former Member of Parliament, serving two terms from 1990 to 1996.