Organ donation rates a 'disgrace': Hinch

Sarah Wiedersehn
Senator and liver transplant recipient Derryn Hinch has vowed to push for a 'living will' system.

Derryn Hinch has vowed to push for a 'living will' system to boost the organ donation rate in Australia, which has been described by the senator and liver transplant recipient as a "bloody disgrace".

A living will, a directive to physicians, is a document that lets people state their wishes for end-of-life medical care, including organ donation, in case they become unable to communicate their decisions.

"I want a living will, which means if you go on the register (for organ donation) you can not be taken off by your family," Mr Hinch told the Melbourne Press Club on Wednesday.

The senator revealed he has spoken about the proposal with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull just two weeks ago and is very confident it will happen.

"The 'living will' will be here, I promise," Mr Hinch said.

The need for transplantation continues to outweigh the availability of organs. In 2016, there were 503 deceased organ donors.

The number of Australians to have received the 'gift of life' through organ transplant rose by 17 per cent to 1447 organ transplant recipients.

Surgeon Professor Bob Jones AM, head of the Austin Hospital Liver Unit, says donating organs is the most profound gift you can give another, and despite having conducted dozens of transplants still considers it a "miracle".

"A lot of medicine it patching people up, but this is taking patients who are dying you don't put them back up the cliff face you put them back up on top of the mountain and they go back to playing tennis, golf, go back to work," he told AAP.

Senator Hinch was one of three journalists, albeit a former one, to testify on Wednesday to the power of organ donation as part of DonateLife Week, alongside business journalist Tom Skotnicki and photographer Andrew Chapman - all the recipients of a liver transplant.

"Last week I was on the Syrian border under armed guards, went to Jordan, went to Petra. In one day walked 15 kilometres, according to my iPhone climbed 44 storeys to get to the monastery at Petra in 45 degree heat and I felt fantastic," an emotional Senator Hinch said.

Both Ms Skotnicki and Mr Chapman also recommended an opt-out rather than opt-in organ donation system.

But Prof Jones says we are asking the wrong question when it comes to organ donation.

"If you and your children are dying would you accept an organ transplant, because that's why we do it, it's not because we want to be organ donors," he said