At age forty-five, Mal's life and our family's were changed forever overnight. His once healthy heart could hardly function. We were devastated.
A few years later, our lives were again changed forever, through the unique experience of transplantation. Lengthy deliberation ensued before Mal made the decision to accept this path, but nothing can prepare you for that phone call.
This was a tumultuous time. It was a journey that has been very special and a privilege to have experienced. A journey of conflicting emotions. For our family, renewed hope and a second chance of life. For our special donor family, intense grief at suddenly losing their loved one. Our feelings were indescribable. This precious new heart was the ultimate, most caring and generous gift of life that could be given to a stranger. We will remain eternally grateful to them.
We needed to give something in return. Our goals were to acknowledge and thank our donor family and our transplant team, and to raise awareness of the need for organ and tissue donation. The Cycle of Giving event has been able to expand with the love and support of valued family and friends. Now in its sixth year, a grant from the Organ and Tissue Authority has enabled a continuing dream to be fulfilled.
Whilst all too short, Mal's second chance of life proved to be an extraordinary time. Through participation in the Australian and World Transplant Games, another close and supportive family was established. Mal set up and co-ordinated the archery program for the 2006 Australian Games. Despite being very sick, he won medals and was elated to score a bull's-eye! He was humbled and surprised to receive the Clifford T Henderson Award. This recognizes the one who most embodies the spirit of the games, through courage and inspiration.
When faced with a diagnosis of terminal cancer our immediate thoughts were for others. For our transplant team, their dedication and skills which enabled a second chance of life were going to be prematurely cut short. We felt acute grief for their impending loss. Our own loss seemed secondary.
I hope to perpetuate this expression of our eternal gratitude through the Cycle of Giving - Give a Gift of Life. I have Mal's firm and loving hand guiding me on this continuing path.