Donald is a very grateful person who is pleased to tell his story in DonateLife Week. He hopes that people will see how a transplant can give a new life and that they will sign up to donate organs.
After recovering from nephritis in his later school years he was left with only forty per cent kidney function. He went on to an apprenticeship in building and later went to Darwin to work after cyclone Tracey. After a few months there, he suffered complete kidney failure and was flown to Sydney's St Luke's Hospital and started dialysis.
He decided to have his treatment at home at night so that he could return to work each day. His mum, dad, Heather and I supported him by learning to help with the operation of the dialysis machine which was installed in their home in 1978.
Both Heather and I offered to donate a kidney and both were a suitable match. I chose to be first with Heather as a back up if things didn't work out. The transplant was carried out after about six months with unbelievable results. The donation of my kidney was the most rewarding experience of my life.
Donald and I are the longest living kidney donor and recipient at the Royal North Shore Hospital Transplant Centre. Both of us were invited to celebrate this at a presentation by the NSW Governor Marie Bashir and Dr John Mahony. The latter organised the transplant and made the procedure a lot easier with the friendly and ever available help. He has looked after the pair of us for the thirty-two years since the transplant and has become a very valued family friend.
There is now an excellent renal specialist, Dr Razak, in Coffs Harbour, as well as a wonderful Renal Centre at the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital with very experienced and exceptionally caring nurses and support staff.
Donald went back to building and obtained a full building trade licence. He has built numerous houses in Urunga and Coffs Harbour. Donald was also able to return to his love of surfing and surf lifesaving-including beach patrols. He has been recognised with Life Membership of the Urunga Surf Club. He has been well supported by his loving wife, Debbie.
It would be wonderful if more people would sign on to donate life and give other families the opportunity to enjoy the experience our family has had.