One donor, four lives the result
By LEE McDOUGALL
ORGAN donation is a subject very close to Leigh Galbraith's heart.
Ms Galbraith is one of 85 local Centrelink staff who have signed up with the Australian Organ Donor Register ahead of Organ Donor Awareness Week, which begins on Friday.
When the call went out for Government employees to sign up to the register, Ms Galbraith didn't hesitate.
Twenty-one years ago, her sister, Wendy, became an organ donor recipient ? with the single donation of a transplanted kidney resulting in four lives being dramatically affected.
In 1985, after several years of dialysis due to complete kidney failure, Wendy received the phone call she had been waiting for ? a donor kidney was hers following the death of a person in a car accident.
The resultant successful transplant meant that not only was Wendy's life saved, she and her husband were given the green light to start the family they had previously been told was not an option.
Exactly nine-and-a-half months after the first anniversary of her kidney transplant, Wendy gave birth to her first precious girl ? Emily Leigh. Three-and-a-half years later, Wendy gave birth to her second daughter, Sarah Ann.
While her kidney transplant meant that Wendy was able to enjoy 20 years and two beautiful daughters, sadly her life ended in September last year following a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage. But while her life may have ended, her legacy and her story lives on.
Wendy, initially an organ donor recipient, was finally able to repay the debt by becoming an organ donor, helping to 'save' another life who received her donor liver.
"Four lives were the result of that one transplanted kidney 20 years ago," Ms Galbraith said.
"When the request came to sign up to the Organ Donor Register, I felt so strongly. For her entire life, Wendy was so thankful, especially for her girls because she knew they were miracles."
"When everything seems so senseless about someone's death, it is comforting to know your loved one's organs live on in someone else who needed them desperately for life."
Organ Donor Awareness Week runs from Friday to February 25. It aims to raise community knowledge of the register, formed last year as Australia's single donor register site.
The register is administered by Medicare Australia, on behalf of the Federal Government.
While most of us believe that simply ticking the box on our driver's licence is sufficient to be an organ donor, this is not the case. Our details and permission (or objection) need to be provided to the register in order for us to become a donor.
"Inclusion on the Donor Register is voluntary and donors can choose which organs or tissue they are prepared to donate," Julie Bridgman from Centrelink Coffs Harbour said.
"I think Centrelink staff support this cause because it may one day offer people with a serious or life-threatening illness a second chance at life."