By Dr Geoff Crawford
We are an organ donor family. When 16, I signed up for the Australian Kidney Foundation scheme as a potential kidney donor (the only transplant available then). Subsequently I have been a blood donor.
Most of my family have signed up including my brother Ian (but called Eggy and then Bluey in his later years). Bluey was a hard worker with a strong interest in Australian history and literature, a great sense of humour and was a keen metal detector. He was devoted to his wife and family and well before his death became a non-drinker. He never smoked or took illegal drugs.
Bluey retired at age 55 and spent a lot of his time on Melbourne beaches searching for hidden ‘treasures'. He was very successful at it.
Bluey was attacked and suffered severe brain injury. He had not provoked the attack. Seven weeks later he died while in rehab. Those seven weeks were a roller coaster of ups and downs as he moved from high dependency to ICU and back to the high dependency unit before being sent off for rehabilitation. He had a brain injury but it was important for the family to see that his sense of humour and personality remained intact.
When he died, I knew that he wished to be an organ donor and alerted the ICU staff to this fact. He donated his liver, spleen, pancreas, skin, bone, and his kidneys. Ironically the cornea bank was full and they could not take his corneas.
As it was a criminal matter I was required to formally identify his body after organ donation. He looked the same. In Bluey's wallet I found three organ donor cards of various vintages. On one he had written ‘Don't hurt me, I bruise easy'. This was an example of Bluey's keen sense of humour and I read it out at his funeral.
A few months later I received an anonymous letter from a recipient of one kidney expressing how Bluey's donation had changed her quality of life dramatically.
In the weeks, months and years after Bluey's donation, the fact that he did donate helped my family and myself immensely. I would recommend that everyone consider becoming an organ donor and sign up. It is about the best thing that you can do for fellow Aussies.
Dr Geoff Crawford.