Western Australia’s only bone and tissue bank, PlusLife, has expanded its life-changing service to the state’s south-west.
The Midland-based not-for-profit, which manages bone and tissue donations in WA, has opened its bone retrieval program for patients undergoing hip replacement surgery at St John of God Bunbury Hospital and Bunbury Regional Hospital.
Under the program, people can donate the ball part of their hip (the femoral head), which is processed into grafts and used for patients undergoing life-changing operations, such as spinal deformity in children and adolescents, complex joint surgery and treatments for patients with dental and facial bone loss. In many cases graft transplants have saved children with cancer, the distress of a limb amputation.
Led by PlusLife donor liaison nurse Stacey Giblett, who is based at the organisation’s new Bunbury office, there have been four successful donations since the South-West program began on June 8. Another two patients are due to make donations this week.
The new service comes after a record 766 donors offered the gift of improved mobility and wellbeing to others, through generous donations of tissue to PlusLife last year.
This week is DonateLife Week, Australia’s annual awareness campaign to educate the community about the importance of tissue and organ donation.
PlusLife Operations Manager David Toner said the organisation had helped improve thousands of lives through generous donations of Australian tissue.
“Engaging more donors effectively means we can help improve more lives,” Mr Toner said.
“Last year we received the largest number of donations in our 27-year history, up 18% on the previous year.
“In addition, the bedding in of production activities at our Midland headquarters resulted in more than double the number of units of graft being produced in 2019 compared to 2018. In the same period we have also seen a rise in the uptake of grafts requested from other states with almost double the number of interstate recipients.
“We are incredibly proud of this and obviously could not do the work we do without our generous donors. To each and every tissue donor, we thank you.
“We are thrilled to be able to provide south-west patients with a retrieval service so they can donate closer to home and have the opportunity to help make real benefits to the quality of life of others in the community.”
St John of God Bunbury Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Williams said it was pleasing that Bunbury residents and members of WA’s south-west communities could now be involved in the program.
“St John of God Bunbury Hospital is proud to be involved in the program that means, for the first time, people living in Bunbury and WA’s south west can not only have their surgery close to home but can make a life-changing bone donation at the same time,” he said
PlusLife manages two donor programs. Living patients having hip replacement surgery can donate the ball part of their hip, which is used commonly in a ground-up form for children with spinal deformities. And, like organ donation, bone, tendons and ligaments can be donated after death with consent from next-of-kin.
Of last year’s donations, 752 were from living patients who donated their femoral heads after hip replacement surgery, while consenting family members allowed donations from another 14 people, who donated bone and tissue after death.
Last year, 552 patients received donated tissue and grafts from PlusLife.
DonateLife Week 2020 runs from July 26 to August 2.
Surgeons interested in referring patients to the new south-west program can contact PlusLife on 6144 3500.
To register as a bone, tissue or organ donor, visit www.donorregister.gov.au or via Medicare online.