I received a liver transplant because I have a very rare disease called Wilson's disease. Six months after my 25th birthday someone noticed the whites of my eyes were yellow. Six weeks later I was in a coma in hospital with complete liver failure and only days or hours to live.
The doctors decided to risk giving me a liver transplant and a donor liver became available. It worked. I awoke 24 hours after surgery after being in a coma for ten days. I had lost 30-40 kilograms in weight, spent several weeks in intensive care and had no strength. I could not even roll over in bed.
I was discharged six weeks later and went home where I promptly caught pneumonia and had another four weeks in hospital. But my strength was slowly returning and I went back to university and played sport. I even went skydiving again.
In the many years since my transplant, I have competed at the Australian Transplant Games and been fortunate enough to represent Australia at the World Transplant Games.
I completed my PhD in 1992 and now work as a medical researcher. Few people, including medical practitioners, can tell that I have had a liver transplant. I do normal things (except I don't drink alcohol) and best of all, I enjoy the gift (of life) that I have been given. I have fewer days off sick than most of my work colleagues.
I am extremely thankful that the donor's family considered and consented to organ donation when their relative died. I have written to my donor family through the Red Cross to thank them, but of course no words are enough. My living a full life is the best way I can think of to thank the donor and their family.
Even though it is now more than 20 years since my transplant, every year, on the anniversary of my transplant, even though I don't know the name of my donor or what they looked like, I remember my donor and I thank the family for their decision.