New documentary released — Donating Life

Donating Life is a short documentary that provides a snapshot into the lives of three families who have been involved in the emotional, yet life-changing process of organ and tissue donation. The audience meets two survivors of the wait list, Paul and Stuart, who tell their true stories of waiting without knowing when or even if a suitably matched organ would become available.

The audience also encounters the other perspective on donation – that of a donor family. We are introduced to the Hammetts, who after finding out their loved one, Carol had suffered a catastrophic brain haemorrhage, selflessly decided to donate her organs for others’ benefit. As a generous soul, they knew this was what she would have wanted.

The documentary ends on an powerful note exclaiming that even when something tragic occurs, death can still provide a purpose and give others a second chance at life.

Director Sarah Pellegrino said, “Donating Life was a real labour of love. Meeting these people and hearing these stories was an emotional roller coaster and a journey I loved experiencing. I was aiming for more people to start talking about this subject. When you ask people their view of organ and tissue donation, they are generally all for it, however often they haven’t spoken to family about their decision. Working with the DonateLife team, I learned it’s the family who will be asked to confirm their loved one’s donation decision at time of death – knowing your family’s wishes alleviates the burden of this very important decision.

“I first decided to make this film while I was volunteering for Very Special Kids (a camp that caters to terminally ill children). A lot of the children on these camps were dying, and some of them needed an organ transplant. They were on the wait list along with ~1500 Australians. Donation is rare and scarcity of organs is a real issue, because just one per cent of hospital deaths occur in situations that make organ donation possible, while tissue donation is less limited. Maybe if we talked about it more, we could help lessen the wait for sick patients. I loved making this film and I will continue to produce stories that tackle the big issues and need telling".

The Organ and Tissue Authority and DonateLife team thank Sarah and the participating cast for their generous and beautiful story-telling. 



About the Director

Being the daughter of two high school media teachers; Sarah’s career in film was thrust upon her. Sarah realised that when she was 14 years old she wanted to be a film editor. This led her to studying a Diploma in Screen and Media at Swinburne University of Technology in 2015.  In her first year, she produced and edited a short film; Cadhan which’s content revolved around the trauma of child abuse. The film went onto screen in the South of France at Smr13 Festival Du Independent.  

Sarah, since completing first year has circled around as an editor at production companies such as Road to Refuge and Media Creatures in Collingwood.  Sarah has always had a bug for telling stories that matter and the stories that are going to make a difference. It was her second year at Swinburne that she decided she better direct her own piece before she graduated.

Donating Life is Sarah’s directional debut. She has hopes that the film will actually get people talking about the subject and have people come to a decision, should something happen and make sure their family is aware of their wishes.


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