It was many years ago that I was given the gift of life. Thanks to my donor I have enjoyed many milestones most people take for granted. I have shared the joy of seeing my children married and I have been blessed with grandchildren.
I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder which meant that, over the course of my life, my lungs had a total breakdown. Over time my health deteriorated so chronically that I was put on oxygen 24/7. I barely had enough puff to walk to the letterbox to get the daily mail. The oxygen tank became my handbag - my lifeline.
At the time, to have the transplant I had to relocate to have the best chance of survival. The relocation was a major upheaval for our family - not just geographically but also emotionally.
After 17 long months, I got the call we had all been waiting for. That day, I didn't know if I would live or die but what I did know is that I didn't want anyone else to have to endure such a life-changing operation so far from their family and support.
Once well enough, I mounted a campaign for a lung transplant unit in Perth. One of my proudest moments, and one I fought tirelessly for, was the opening of the lung transplant unit at Royal Perth Hospital in 2004. I also set up the Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation of WA to provide support for others walking the same road. The foundation also fundraises for vital equipment to continue transplants.
It hasn't been an easy journey, but it's certainly been fulfilling. My mantra in life has been 'everything that is difficult is worthwhile' - and to this day, I attest to that.