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ANGLs in Kokoda

By Sheree

Late on a Sunday night my family and I returned home to a missed call from a Sydney number. Curiously, my mother phoned it back.

On the other end of the line was the liver transplant co-ordinator advising us to make our way to hospital immediately. By miracle an amazing family had agreed to donate their loved ones organs in a time of tragedy and my father was to soon be the recipient of a much needed liver.

He had been on the transplant waiting list for less than six months suffering with sclerosing cholangitis that had caused end stage liver failure. He was 45 years old at the time.

The wait for my father and our family was extremely emotional. From watching his clear deterioration every day, his increasing lethargy and regular check ups to ensure he was still suitable for a liver transplant, we all lived in fear that the call may not come in time. In the last few weeks before dad's transplant, he was so fatigued he had taken leave from work and we all held our breath every day, cried every night and hoped that a miracle would soon happen.

After Dad received the liver transplant we were glad to see that he had made it. At the same time though, we were conscious that a family somewhere had just farewelled their loved one. It was also tragic to watch other patients that were on that same waiting list. Before our eyes they deteriorated, never receiving a phone call and adding to the numbers of those who never made it. Watching the sorrow and grief in their families eyes as they packed away their possessions and said goodbye, we couldn't have been more thankful for the gift of life to our family but still saddened by what could have been.

Now almost 10 years on, the events of that night and the following few days remain vivid in my mind. I am amazed that people around me still have a poor understanding of organ donation. Many when asked state 'yes' they are potential donors. When I ask if their family are aware, they have never discussed it!

To try and help raise awareness for organ and tissue donation, I am attempting to complete the Kokoda Trail with some of my nursing colleagues. I aim to do my part in paying respect to the family that gave my family so much and to increase current donor rates. I also hope to reach other Australians and ease their wait, like that which my father and our family went through.

My life would not be what it is today if I had to prematurely farewell my father - as I realise many other families have had to do. Get on board and talk about organ donation with your family - I can't encourage you enough.

Sheree