I hope my story will help start a discussion about organ donation. Here is a life that was saved because of DonateLife Week.
My father had been slightly ill with liver disease for a few years. Bloating, drainage, tubes and inability to walk soon became standard events and words in our house. Before that, he was the owner of his own business, a grandfather of two and a father of two daughters. He was pretty active overall.
I received a call from my mother telling me to 'come home, there's something wrong; I think he's had a stroke'. No, it wasn't a stroke; it was to be the first of many encephalopathy attacks that my father was to suffer. They were horrific for all of us - him, mum, my sister and me. It was gut wrenching to see my father like this.
These attacks turned him into a shell of the man he formally was. He didn't know his name or where he lived, he couldn't even drink through a straw at some points. Forever - 2am calls. There were many trips in the ambulance and many waits in emergency.
Then his kidneys started shutting down. The liver is vital for getting rid of toxins and without the liver, the kidneys had to pick up the slack. They were getting tired.
Our wonderful hospital team helped his kidneys to kick-start many times. But for each time the kidneys failed, there was another 'touch and go' time in ICU, another weakness that he was struggling to fight and another hope that this would all go away was gone.
By Christmas, the liver transplant team at the Austin didn't feel that 'he would live if he came home'.
Eventually we were told 'they don't get any sicker'. They gave him seven days. Our odds weren't great, as Dads blood type wasn't common.
It was just after DonateLife Week that I got a call from Mum. At first, she hung up. I honestly thought he'd died. But, she called back and struggled with 'we've got a liver'. The surgery was a great success and really, he's had a dream run. He's now up and moving again, pottering at work and he's out in his boat. The most important thing is - he's spending time with his two grandsons and the rest of his family.
I can't find words that even come close to thanking the people who said 'yes, I would like to donate my loved ones organs'. To make such a selfless decision at such a harrowing time is something I couldn't possibly begin to understand. But they have and because of that my father is alive today. And not only alive - but thriving!
I honestly believe that, if it weren't for DonateLife and the drive they had, that my father wouldn't have received the organ he was so desperate for. All I can do is thank them from the bottom of my heart.