May 2022 DonateLife Network update

Lucinda Barry - Chief Executive Officer

Dear DonateLife team 

Somehow we find ourselves in May, this year is absolutely steaming ahead! I hope you are all keeping well and perhaps managed a break during the Easter and ANZAC Day long weekends. 

Join us! DL Network engagement meeting 

You should all now have received a very special ‘Save the Date’ invitation to an exciting opportunity for us to come together face-to-face as a network next month in Sydney - less than a month away. This will be a great chance to re-connect as it has been a few years since we were able to come together in person, and we have also had many new people join our team in the meantime. 

We are planning a great line up of presentations and group discussions so that, as the DonateLife Network, we have the opportunity to share knowledge and ideas, and get to know one another a little more.  

I really hope as many of you as possible can come – it's going to be a great 2 days with our team coming together from all states and territories. It’s a chance to reflect on where we have come from over the past decade, and in particular look at the impacts of COVID on the program in the past 2 years and then importantly look to the future. As a united team we need to focus on how we can re-build the program to pre-COVID levels and then take it to the next level. More information about the program agenda to come shortly. I am especially looking forward to meeting those of you who have joined our DonateLife team over the past two years – make sure you come up and say hi! 

And for those of you who are not able to come as you are rostered on, I hope to see you at the 2023 Donation and Transplant conference which we are planning now. More news on that in the coming months.  

Looking forward to DonateLife Week 2022  

Mark your calendars as DonateLife Week 2022, our major annual awareness event, is back from 24–31 July 2022, and we are starting to ramp up planning.  
Last year’s Great Registration Race for DonateLife Week was a great success (despite having limited opportunities for events due to COVID-19), achieving our goal of more than 100,000 new registrations on the AODR. In fact, the campaign has been shortlisted as a top 3 finalist for a Mumbrella CommsCon Award for best Government-sponsored campaign – which is fantastic news. 

For DonateLife Week 2022, we want to keep the momentum going and build on that success! We’ll again be asking Australians to get involved in The Great Registration Race for DonateLife Week to encourage more Australians to join the AODR and to talk to their family about donation. Of course, the backbone of DonateLife Week has always been community involvement, and this year will see this continuing with a return to being able to host events. We also plan to extend our reach and engage the corporate and government sector. Stay tuned to hear more about what will be happening, how we can all help support and be involved in DonateLife Week this year.  

OTA’s contribution to book on donation and transplantation 

OTA Contribution to book on donation and transplantation

In other exciting news, OTA’s National Medical Director Associate Professor Helen Opdam and I recently co-authored a chapter on organ donation in Australia, for a new book published by Oxford University Press, titled ‘Brain Death, Organ donation and transplantation. The Precious Gift of Restoring Life’.   

The book was launched on Sunday 20 March 2022 at the 6th All India Institute Of Medical Science Annual Neurotrauma Conference. A full conference replay is now available, including a presentation from Helen on Australia’s experience. The book will be available for purchase online soon. Watch this space! 

Commonwealth Tribute to Life project webinars 

Last edition we let you know about the UK-led ‘Tribute to Life’ international project, bringing together Commonwealth countries to share knowledge and expertise on organ donation and transplantation. There's now a Memorandum of Understanding in place which I have signed as CEO of the OTA, to build support, share experiences and expert knowledge, and take part in professional training opportunities that will help save and transform lives.  

Their webinar series has now well and truly kicked off, with many staff from across OTA and the DonateLife Network taking part by sharing their knowledge and experience from Australia. 

OTA’s National Manager Clinical Programs Strategy, Alison Hodak, will chair a webinar for the series on the role of Donation Nurses on Tuesday 17 May. The session will feature speakers from across the Commonwealth, including Clinical Nurse Consultant Organ and Tissue Donation Yoni Hope-Hodgetts, from the NSW Organ & Tissue Donation Service. 

The following week, DonateLife Queensland State Clinical Manager and Nursing Director, Tina Coco, will speak at a session about honouring deceased donors on Tuesday 24 May. 

Keep an eye on the NHS website to book your spot at these sessions. 

If you missed it, you can tune in to watch OTA’s National Manager, Communications and Engagement, Brianna Elms with Holly Mason from the NHS in the UK sharing their experiences and insights from running effective national public awareness campaigns for organ and tissue donation. 

I also chaired a panel discussion for Tribute to Life on launching promotional campaigns at a regional level. It was great to hear from speakers Catherine McKeowan (Northern Ireland) and Dr Avnish Seth (India) on what they have been doing in their part of the world. As soon as the video is available, you’ll be able to watch it on the NHS website too. 

Finally for all our amazing nurses, I hope you had a lovely International Nurses Day yesterday and want to personally acknowledge and thank you for your dedication and commitment. It has been another very challenging 12 months and I hope you have been able to also take care of yourself.  

Warm wishes 

 Year to date data – January to April: 

Donation and transplant outcomes to date for 2022, while lower than pre-COVID outcomes, have increased from last year. 

  •  149 deceased donors for Jan-Apr, a 15% increase on 2021 YTD (130) 

  • 390 transplant recipients for Jan-Apr, a 2.4% increase on 2021 YTD (381) 

The DonateLife Audit data to the end of March show a national consent rate of 56%, consistent with 2021. Other key metrics include: 

  • 80% overall referral rate, down slightly from 81% in 2021 

  • 79% of staff raised discussions involved a Donation Specialist Nurse, up from 76% in 2021 

OTA updates

Web Coaching program for donation nurses 

The OTA’s Web Coaching program continues to receive positive feedback from participants. 

The program has been designed to provide donation nurses the opportunity to practise and hone their skills in donation conversations with families, while simultaneously receiving honest and constructive feedback from experienced coaches.  

Kate Hicks, a Donation Specialist Nursing Co-ordinator with DonateLife Tasmania, recently took part in the program with coach Bernie Dwyer. 

Here’s what Kate had to say about the process: 

Does an FDC (Family Donation Conversation) evoke a heightened sense of responsibility for you?  Does the idea of watching yourself played back in a video horrify you? Does the concept of a coach monitoring your skills daunt you? My answers to these questions were ‘yes, yes and yes’!! 

So, the first time Bernie popped up on my screen for FDC web coaching, I was a bundle of nerves and anticipated doom! She quickly put me at ease, assuring me this is simply a simulation experience, in a safe environment with real-time feedback and support.  How amazing that we can use this platform to finesse such an important aspect of our role! 

Easing into the scenario, it played out unusually naturally and once we closed it off there was time to reflect on all aspects of the simulation and the conversation that emerged. And yes, it wasn’t the easiest thing to re-watch yourself on video, but it was incredibly insightful and a valuable aspect of the feedback. We identified some key areas of focus to improve my FDC skill set through revision and practice. 

Accessing web coaching is valuable for any donation specialist. Whether you have 10 years or 10 months experience, I am certain we all have something to learn. I will always feel a sense of great responsibility to conduct an FDC to the best of my best ability and the web coaching helps me to do this.  

Give it a go and book your session in! I went back for more! 

Please book for the Web Coaching program via the DonateLife Learning Site

OrganMatch, Virtual Cross Matching projects showcased in Transplant Journal of Australasia 

For your interest, the following papers were recently published in the Transplant Journal of Australasia (TJA). The papers provide an overview of the projects the OTA has been working on, in collaboration with the Red Cross Lifeblood and the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand. If you would like to read more, they are available at the links below: 

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Community engagement 

2022 Community Awareness Grants leading new community partnerships 

11 community-based organisations and research providers with expertise and experience in reaching some of our harder-to-reach audience groups including young people, CALD and First Nations Australians will support the DonateLife Community Awareness Program in 2022. 

It was our most competitive round to date, with 56 applications received from organisations that all had great ideas for events, research and education, and PR and digital projects to support organ and tissue donation awareness. Together, the 11 great projects (that’s four more than in 2021!) will share more than $540,000 to lead their exciting projects, some of which will occur during DonateLife Week later this year. We look forward to sharing more about their activities. 

You can find out more about the successful grants on the DonateLife website. We are following them all on social media and will help to promote what they are doing throughout the year, and you can too. 

Gift of Life Walk

2021 ACT-based community awareness grant recipient, Gift of Life Inc (and recently announced as 2022 recipient!), held its annual Donate Life Walk from 2-7 April to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation. 
As in 2021, this year the walk was virtual, rather than one big event, so it was great to see their participation from all across Australia! Gift of Life aims to make their walk truly national over coming years. 

The OTA and DL ACT teams got together at Lake Burley Griffin with Gift of Life and other local supporters to do a 5km loop.  

Successful Gift of Life walks were also held this year in Brisbane (pictured above) and Gladstone.  

We’d love for more teams across the country to set up walks and get involved next year. Keep an eye on the Gift Of Life website and sign up a team in your state or territory when registrations open for 2023. 

News from the First Nations Engagement Group 

It’s been a year since the DonateLife Network’s First Nations Engagement Group (FNEG) first met to begin work on improving inclusivity and breaking down barriers to donation for Australia’s Indigenous peoples. 

The group’s members come from clinical and community engagement teams from across the country and have been meeting regularly to collaborate and share success stories, experiences and advice. 

FNEG is currently tendering for an Indigenous Advisory Body to provide advice to the Group and the wider DonateLife network on engaging with First Nations families and communities about organ and tissue donation in a culturally appropriate way. 

Once an Indigenous Advisory Body has been appointed, FNEG’s goal is to collaboratively create two frameworks to be used across the DonateLife network: 

  • to support inclusive and sensitive engagement with Indigenous communities on the topic of organ and tissue donation, and 

  • to support culturally-appropriate family donation conversations with First Nations families. 

The aim of these frameworks will be to foster inclusivity and provide guidance to staff, while acknowledging the diversity of Australia’s First Nations peoples. 

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DonateLife Network news

DonateLife ACT

Sean Chan

DonateLife ACT has welcomed the appointment of Dr Sean Chan as the State Medical Director. Sean is an Intensive Care Senior Staff Specialist and Deputy Director, ACT Trauma Service at The Canberra Hospital 

Sean has been acting DonateLife State Medical Director since August of last year. During this time, he has helped to significantly advance the Agency and been an active contributor to the OTA’s Clinical Governance Committee and Jurisdictional Advisory Committee. 

DonateLife Queensland

Photo of Nicole, Prue and Kate

DonateLife Queensland has recently welcomed three new Donation Specialist Coordinators, Nicole Bulley, Prue Groves and Kate Robinson. Great to have you on board Nicole, Prue and Kate! 

Queensland’s ‘Community Champions’ are happy to have returned to community activities, successfully hosting a stall at an A-League game recently. The Communications team is now preparing to host their first 2022 Community Champions training and information day for new volunteers, getting them ready to help out during DonateLife Week activities. 

NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service

Sydney Royal Easter Show

It was eleven days of Easter Show excitement for staff of the NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service, as well as an enthusiastic brigade of volunteers. Thousands of people came past the awareness stand at the Royal Easter Show at Sydney Olympic Park. Data is still being collated, but it’s clear that hundreds of people registered to become organ and tissue donors and are now on the AODR. Many others verified that they were already on the register. Well done team NSW! 

Congratulations also to Leah Upcroft, Manager Corporate, Stakeholder & Community Partnerships, who recently co-authored a journal article published in PLOS One, on the role community plays in registering an organ donation decision. You can read the article on the PLOS One website. 

DonateLife Victoria

VIC careers expo photo

DonateLife Victoria is enjoying being back out in the community, and recently attended the Victorian VCE and careers expo. It’s great to be back engaging with Victorians face-to-face after minimal community engagement for the past two years.

DonateLife Victoria has recently welcomed two new Donation Specialist Nursing Coordinators (DSNCs) – Maddie Geradi and Anna McNamara. The Vic team has also welcomed two new Nurse Donation Specialists – Bridget Walters at Northern Health, and Brad Allan at Bendigo Health. Clinical Nurse Manager, Justin Holloway, has returned from leave after a stint overseas. Welcome to all the new starters and welcome back to Justine

DonateLife South Australia

Greg Hogan SA

DonateLife SA would like to welcome its new Donation Specialist Nursing Coordinator (DSNC), Greg Hogan, who commenced during April.  

Greg holds a Bachelor of Nursing, Graduate Diploma in Renal Nephrology Nursing and is registered as a Division 1 Registered Nurse. He has over 20 years clinical experience — for the last 10 years, he has worked in General Recovery and Anaesthetics as a Clinical Nurse Lead, collaborating with both patients and allied healthcare workers. Prior to this, Greg spent 10 years in Renal Haemodialysis as a Registered Nurse, working extensively and directly with Renal Transplant workup patients and experiencing the benefits of organ donation. 

Greg has worked in both the UK and Saudi Arabia in the Renal Dialysis area which contributed to his understanding of complex and diverse cultural backgrounds. Please join us in welcoming Greg to the SA Team! 

DonateLife SA to return to P.A.R.T.Y Program 

DonateLife SA is looking forward to re-engaging with the award-winning P.A.R.T.Y Program, a full day, interactive trauma prevention program for young Australians aged 15-24.  

Operating in SA since 2014, the program allows students to spend a day at hospital travelling the devastating path of a trauma patient. It aims to keep young people safe by giving them a better understanding of the outcomes of risky decisions. A key part of the program is showing the ripple effect risk-taking behaviour has on families and communities, through sharing DonateLife families’ stories. The DSNCs also provide an educational component about organ donation and the gift of life that registration can give.  

COVID-19 forced the program into a mobile format last year where students were visited in school, which limited the ability of a DonateLife SA’s DSNCs to be involved. But the team is excited to get involved again, when students return to hospitals in the second half of 2022. 

DonateLife Western Australia

A number of new faces have recently joined the team at DonateLife WA, including Clinical Nurse Specialist Minnetta Jackson at Joondalup Health Campus (JHC), Intensivist and DonateLife Consultant Dr Mark Shea at Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH), and Intensivist and DonateLife Consultant Dr Sudeep Thekkayil at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH). Welcome to the WA Team Minnetta, Mark and Sudeep! 

New First Nations resources  
With OTA funding, DonateLife WA started an aboriginal resource development project in 2021 to establish and promote community awareness of, and support for organ and tissue donation within the Aboriginal community in metropolitan Perth, through the development of a suite of culturally- appropriate clinical and community resources.  
The resources include two booklets: The Brain Story and The Organ and Tissue Donation Story, with two short, animated videos to compliment the booklets. A trifold brochure — Let’s Yarn about Organ & Tissue Donation — and a poster have also been developed. We anticipate the resources should be finalised in the coming weeks and will be ready to launch for DonateLife Week 2022. 

Do you have news to share? 

This email is a small snapshot of news from the DL Network. If you have an update to share, get in touch with your state or territory communications rep or email the OTA communications team

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Staff profile - Meet Matt Ellis

Matt Ellis staff profile

Where do you work?  
DonateLife Victoria.  
What’s your role in the DonateLife network?  
Quality and Operations Manager, DonateLife Victoria. 

What do you love about your role? 
There are many things I love about my role. Probably the most rewarding is that all the hard work, skill and processes completed by our agency potentially culminates in life altering outcomes for one or many individuals and their families. It’s nice to be a small part of that. Plus, the DLV staff put on amazing lunches. 

What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?  
I’ve only been at DLV for about five months, so I’m hoping my list of accomplishments has some way to go. We have developed and are about to launch some very nice data dashboards that I hope will significantly improve timely delivery of key performance metrics and lead to improved processes.   

In my previous roles, I was proud of publishing research I was a part of and being invited to speak at medical conferences along with chairing my first Hospital Respiratory Medicine Accreditation Panel. 

What led you to this career?  
I had plugged away as a Physiologist at Alfred Health for many years and was keen to get away from clinical work. I had recently completed a Master of Health Administration and my wife fortuitously came across the job advert for Ops Manager at DLV, so I applied. I had worked closely for many years with the Alfred Lung Transplant Team and had seen first hand the benefits of the work done by DonateLife agencies around the country, so it seemed like a good fit for me.   

What was your first job?  
When I was almost 15, I got a job working the counter at Baker’s Delight. To this day, it’s the job that has provided me with the best perks, with copious amounts of free bread, pull-aparts and coffee scrolls. 

Are you an early bird or a night owl?  
Early bird, much to my wife’s chagrin. 

Are you a dog person or a cat person (or neither)? 
I’ll have to say dog because we have one. My wife came home with a rescue dog – a ginormous stag hound that has literally caused us to sell up and buy a house with a bigger yard.   

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?  
Teleportation – being able to be instantly placed on a beach in the Greek Islands without the 24-hour travel time would suit me just fine. Being able to reverse balding would also be a nice superpower to have. 

If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick? 
YouTube – to keep my kids quiet when needed. 
Wily Weather – I need this for my fishing tides and winds. 
Spotify – for my very long commute to the office. 

What’s your favourite sport to watch and which team do you barrack for?  
I am an AFL lover from way back, and a long time (read long suffering) Carlton supporter. 

What’s one hobby you’d love to get into?  
Stand up paddle boarding – looks peaceful.   

What’s the top destination on your must-visit list?  
I’d love to go to the Caribbean when the Aussie cricket team tours. Or Rio De Janeiro would also be amazing – I have never been to South America. 

What’s your go-to karaoke song? 
I couldn’t ever envision a scenario where I subject an audience to my singing. Hypothetically, I’d probably go with Under the Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

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