Territorian Katrina Rehlaender, now 29, was 11 years old when she received a gift she willremember every Valentine’s Day: a new heart.
Katrina had been born with a hole in her heart. After having an artificial valve and two pacemakers inserted, she was told she needed a heart transplant.
Thanks to an anonymous donor Katrina received her new heart on 14 February 1993 at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Now she is asking Territorians to consider pledging to donate their organs after death.
“Basically I wouldn’t be here today without my new heart,” she says.
“Once you’ve gone you don’t need your organs, so you could help save a life.
“But making the decision to donate can be a hard decision. Taking the time to think about it and talking about it to your friends and family today could make your wishes known before it is too late.”
DonateLife NT is urging Territory families to sit down and discuss each other’s organ donation wishes as part of a national organ donation awareness campaign.
“Family consent is an important step in organ donation and we find that many people are unsure of their loved one’s wishes,” DonateLife NT Manager Lee Wood says.
“Knowing if your family members want to be organ donors can avoid confusion and crucial delays later on, and help save the lives of others.”
Tracey Williams is another Territorian who knows the importance of discussing organ donations with their loved ones – her father Mike Newton donated four organs when he passed away.
“Dad was 57 when he died and luckily we knew what his wishes were,” she said.
“At the time you are going through a lot and it made it a lot easier knowing what dad wanted.”
Resources to assist families in discussing their donation wishes are available here.
Media contact: Kasey Brunt, Royal Darwin Hospital, 8922 8833/ 0419 818 414