Western Australia’s only bone and tissue bank, PlusLife, is celebrating 30 years’ service to the community, helping to improve more than 14,000 lives through the generous gift of tissue donation.

PlusLife will celebrate the milestone with a series of community events to raise awareness about tissue donation during October, including the 2022 Pluslife Anniversary campaign, One, Two, Tea, which encourages supporters to rally family, friends and workplaces to sign up as donors over a simple morning tea.

PlusLife Chief Executive Officer Hal Boronovskis said the Midland-based not-for-profit was a vital health service in WA and had played a crucial role in managing and supplying allograft for thousands of patients undergoing life-changing operations.

“PlusLife is an extraordinary organisation that achieves significant, yet sometimes understated, work in our community,” Mr Boronovskis said.

“We are incredibly proud of the work we do and the role we play in improving health outcomes of patients who require donor tissue and bone allografts. Surgeons come to us every day requesting quality allograft to use in their procedures, yet many people don’t even realise these donations are possible.”

Through PlusLife’s two donor programs, patients having a hip replacement operation can donate the ball part of their hip (femoral head), which is produced into allograft for implantation. Like organ donation, bone, tendons and ligaments can also be donated after death with consent from the deceased’s next-of-kin.

The gift of bone and tissue donation is used for patients undergoing life-transforming operations, such as complex joint surgery and treatments for patients with dental and facial bone loss. In many cases it has saved people with cancer the distress of a limb amputation.
Since it was established in 1992, PlusLife has created 32,000 individual allografts from over 16,000 donors. Almost 24,000 allografts have been implanted to help 14,717 patients, including children with bone cancer and spinal deformities. Last year alone, a record 1233 patients received 1930 life-changing bone and tissue from allografts produced by PlusLife.

PlusLife has retrieval services across Perth and in the South-West; and engages with interstate hospitals that do not currently have tissue donation programs.

Mr Boronovskis said PlusLife had made strong headway as a bone and tissue bank over the past three decades and he looked forward to the organisation remaining an integral part of WA’s health landscape.

“We have successfully navigated significant challenges in our 30 years – including the recent COVID pandemic and the threat of closure several years ago prior to our relocation to the newly constructed facility in Midland,” he said.

“But despite these hurdles, we are still serving the WA community and providing allografts that are greatly improving lives. We look forward to many more years providing Australians with the opportunity to donate bone and tissue to improve the lives of others.”

Organ and Tissue Authority data shows there were 3307 tissue donors, including 313 deceased donors who made 497 tissue donations, in Australia in 2021. The vast majority were femoral head donations from hip replacement operations.

But latest statistics show just 38% of West Australians are registered tissue and organ donors – one of the lowest registration rates in the country.

“At PlusLife, we are committed to providing the opportunity to donate by ensuring more people understand the full impact of tissue donation and the incredible number of people that can be helped through even one donation,” Mr Boronovskis said.

“While many people know about the lifesaving impacts of organ donation, the reality is tissue donation is just as important.”

“One deceased tissue donor is able to improve the wellbeing, sight and mobility of up to 20 people.”

PlusLife will hold a series of activations in October to raise awareness of the tissue donation cause, including a city stall in the Murray Street Mall near the Hawkers Market from 2pm to 7pm on October 14 and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital’s Watling Walk on October 28 from 10am to 2pm.