Dr Kathy Knox from Social Marketing @ Griffith is pleased to announce the launch of their latest research project Make it Count sponsored by the Organ and Tissue Authority. The project, funded by a Community Awareness Grant, aims to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation and increase registrations on the Australian Organ Donor Register during the Brisbane Ekka August 12-19, 2018.


The research team Dr Kathy Knox, Dr Ali Ahani and Dr Joy Parkinson from Griffith University, are finalising their plans and preparations that included recruiting and training 25 people for field activities to discuss organ and tissue donation, hand out merchandise and facilitate online donor registrations.

“The project is about encouraging people to register on the Australian Organ Donor Register online. The key focus of this community awareness project is to increase registrations, and to build community awareness about organ donation,” Dr Knox said.

“At any one time there are around 1,400 people waitlisted for a transplant. Market research shows us the different segments of the population, where for various reasons registration and talking about organ and tissue donation is less common. They are young Australians 18-24 year olds, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and males. So these are our target audiences.”



“Currently one in three Australians aged 16 years and over have joined the Australian Organ Donor Register. We know that many believe it’s important to register but because it’s not top of mind they need prompting to get around to registering so we will be promoting the online form at donatelife.gov.au – it takes less than a minute,” Dr Knox said.

During August 2018, Make it Count teams will be engaging with people travelling to and from The Ekka.

“Make it Count teams will be located around transport links including South Bank, Park Road, Beenleigh, Cleveland, Loganlea, Coomera and Helensvale, to tell people about how easy it is to make their decision count by registering to be a donor in under 60 seconds,” Dr Knox said.

“We will have people in DonateLife T-shirts and hats, on the ground outside The Ekka and on the transport links, so people can find out more and register their willingness to become an organ and tissue donor.”

“We are covering 8 sites across Brisbane and the Gold Coast region.”

“These teams are trained in how to communicate about organ and tissue donation. A large number are from health degrees, studying medicine, dentistry, nursing and health services, and most are multi-lingual and represent diverse communities. They’ll be roving around in small groups during The Ekka week when there is an influx of visitors and locals out and about,” Dr Knox explained.



“Recruiters will have merchandise and information on registering. They have materials in 18 languages, pens, wrist bands and brochures to take home as a reminder. They’re encouraging people to register at donatelife.gov.au, or take the form home to discuss donation with family and post it back to join the register. They’ll also be promoting the DonateLife App.”

“We developed the DonateLife App for smart devices in conjunction with the AppFactory at Griffith University from another OTA Community Awareness Grant. We worked with consumer focus groups and target audience insights, to develop content for the App,” Dr Knox said.

The DonateLife App will play a key role in communicating information on organ donation, FAQs, facts and statistics and breaking down myths, such as, I don’t need to donate because thousands of people do, or I’m too old or not healthy enough, and I don’t need to tell my family.

“We are launching the DonateLife App in conjunction with the Make it Count campaign. The App is called DonateLife and it’s available on Google Play and App Store,” Dr Knox said.

“The App is unique in that it provides you with a reminder to have a discussion, and it gives you a prompt. You can set a reminder, for example having dinner with a relative on Friday night, to talk about donation.”


“Opportunity is one of the most common barriers to registering, for example people often say it never came up for discussion or I never thought about it. The App will help you to have an opportunity to come up with a reminder notice that will pop-up on your phone,” Dr Knox explained.


Organ Donation Recipient Kate Phillips

Colleagues on the project to develop the DonateLife App included; Dr Joy Parkinson (Social Marketing @ Griffith), Dr Timo Dietrich (Social Marketing @ Griffith), Dr Rory Mulcahy (University of Sunshine Coast), and Dr Jolon Faichney and Mr Tommi Sullivan (AppFactory, Griffith University).

The stories of inspirational transplant recipients Kate Phillips and Kate Rootsy were involved in training for the Make it Count recruiters in March at Griffith University Gold Coast.

Kate Phillips is a heart and double lung transplant recipient. She’s become an amazing triathlete since receiving her heart-lung transplant around five years ago. After 27 years of being on the sidelines with a genetic heart condition which meant she could not participate in sport, post transplant she’s now an accomplished triathlete preparing for Ironman events, which consecutively do a full marathon (42klm) plus 180klm bike ride plus 4klm swim.



Organ Donation Recipient Kate Rootsey

Double-lung recipient Kate Rootsy defied the odds to become mum of five year old Molly and carried the baton for the Commonwealth games at Palm Beach on April 3, 2018.

“These are just two inspiring examples of how the generous act of donation saves and transforms lives. Registering to be a donor gives hope to those who are waiting, “ Dr Knox said.

There are just a few steps involved with becoming a registered donor: join the national Australian Organ Donor Register online, using your Medicare Card number and speak to your family about your decision to donate, so they will know your decision.

“Some say I ticked that box on my driver’s license but you can no longer do this. We want people to register where it’s going to count on the Australian Organ Donation Register (donatelife.gov.au), which is the only national register,” Dr Knox said.



“And we want people to talk about it with their families, not just once, but several times throughout the year. There’s many occasions where you can share your willingness to be a donor. This has a direct impact to donation rates with nine in ten families agree to donation proceeding when their loved one was on the national register.”

The Make it Count project fits perfectly into the social marketing field to change community behaviours that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good.

“It’s about having community and social impact. One person on a transplant waiting list creates significant burden to the health system. If one donor can improve the lives of many people, their families and communities, then we have the potential to ease health system costs,” Dr Knox said.


The Community Awareness Grants are a part of the Australian Governments OTA National Program that started in 2009, to increase the number of organ donors and to improve transplant recipient outcomes.


This project is sponsored by the Organ and Tissue Authority and the relationship with the OTA and Social Marketing @ Griffith was developed over a number of projects and it continues to look positive going forward for all parties, including the transplant recipient community.

“There is a definite ongoing relationship with the Organ and Tissue Authority, DonateLife Queensland and Social Marketing @ Griffith. We are very appreciative of the support we have received to continue working in this area,” Dr Knox said.