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NRL All Stars captain Benji Marshall and NSW Blues skipper Paul Gallen are among seven Rugby League heroes to headline a national awareness campaign launched today to help promote organ and tissue donation in Australia.

Rugby League’s “let your loved ones know” project has been developed by the NRL, in partnership with the Australian Government, to support and promote 2012 DonateLife Week, which runs from February 19-26.

DonateLife Week is led by the Organ and Tissue Authority as part of the Australian Government’s National Reform Agenda to increase organ and tissue donation rates.

The national theme “Ask and know your loved ones’ wishes” has been chosen because in Australia the family of every potential donor is always asked to confirm the donation wishes of their loved one before organ and/or tissue donation can proceed. 

NRL Director of Community, Culture and Diversity, Ms Trish Crews, launched the NRL’s involvement with DonateLife Week in Canberra today along with a 30-second Community Service Announcement (CSA) advertisement, which will be broadcast nationally from today.

The CSA features One Community Ambassador Trent Barrett along with current NRL players Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels), Jharal Yow Yeh (Broncos), Cooper Cronk (Storm), Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers), Scott Prince (Titans), Paul Gallen (Sharks) and Nathan Merritt (Rabbitohs).

“The NRL and One Community are proud to support DonateLife Week 2012 and encourage all Australians, particularly young people aged 18-29, to know their loved ones’ wishes with regards to organ donation,” Ms Crews said.

“Research shows that nearly half of young adults have not discussed their donation wishes so we hope our CSA will help promote awareness of such an important message that is as simple as families asking and knowing that information.

“Like the many successful community, educational and welfare programs we are involved with, DonateLife Week is all about making a difference to people’s lives – it’s about saving and improving the lives of others.”

Ms Crews was joined at the launch at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra today by NRL DonateLife champions and One Community Ambassadors Mario Fenech, Alan Tongue, Mark Riddell and Ben Rogers.

In addition to the CSA, the NRL will also be launching a two-minute DVD to be used by health workers promoting DonateLife Week, using NRL players to introduce the key messages.

NRL DonateLife champion and One Community Ambassador Trent Barrett, who appears in the CSA, said: “I’ve talked about it with my family. They know my wishes and now I know theirs too.”

“It’s really important because one organ and tissue donor could save or improve the lives of 10 or more people.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, the Hon. Catherine King MP, welcomed the NRL partnership which will help to normalise organ and tissue donation as a conversation all families need to have.

Ms King said: "The NRL is playing a leadership role in the community by getting behind DonateLife Week and helping Australians understand that every family conversation about donation wishes matters - every conversation could one day save lives."

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