Amendment to Bill gives opportunity for compassionate communication

Guy Barnett, Minister for Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing

The Tasmanian Government is working to ensure that Tasmanian organ donors, their families, and organ recipients can seek closure.

The Human Tissue Amendment Bill 2024 amends the Human Tissues Act 1985, which would, with consent, enable contact between a recipient and donor or donor’s family.

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Guy Barnett, said that organ donation gives many Tasmanians a second chance at life.

“Organ donation is incredibly sacred – it gives people a new lease on life, it can vastly improve health outcomes and in the best cases, prolong life for a substantial amount of time,” Minister Barnett said.

“It is understandably emotional, and as such, we want to enable communication between recipients and donors or their families where possible.

“This decision will not only deliver gratitude, but an unparalleled level of closure.

“I hope that these stories will inspire other Tasmanians to consider becoming organ donors.

“These amendments will enhance healthcare delivery in Tasmania, something we are working hard to achieve under our 2030 Strong Plan for Tasmania’s Future.”

The Human Tissue Amendment Bill 2024 will make further amendments as follows:

  • with regards to emergency circumstances provided for by section 21(4)(b) of the Act, allow for a paramedic to take the place of a second medical practitioner in remote rescue situations, where a second medical practitioner would normally form and endorse an opinion that a child’s life is in danger and a blood transfusion is the best means of preventing the death of the child, but no second medical practitioner is available;
  • remove human milk from the application of the Act’s donation and transplant provisions to support the sustainable supply of donated breast milk for babies born prematurely;
  • require that any use of a child’s tissue for medical research be for ethics approved research only and that consent is provided in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (the National Statement), as issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council, which is itself established under the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (Cth); and
  • make minor amendments to other provisions of the Act that relate to children, which do not reflect contemporary practices or expectations with regards to children’s capacity to consent and participate in decisions that involve them. In particular, it is recognised that marriage does not impact the ability of a person under the age of 18 to provide or refuse consent to the removal of their tissue.

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