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Australians pay tribute to organ and tissue donors and their families
Two little words can express a lifetime of gratitude.
The inaugural DonateLife Thank You Day held on 22 November was about paying recognition to the selfless act of donors and their families for giving the ultimate gift – the gift of life.
In Australia, organ and tissue donation cannot proceed without the agreement of the donor family.
This is why it is so important to have the chat with your family so they know your wishes.
The death of a loved one is a harrowing experience, but the generosity of the donor can result in transforming the lives of more than ten other people.
Another way of ensuring your donation decision is by registering on the Australian Organ Donor Register at donatelife.gov.au/decide.
A national day for all Australians to acknowledge all organ and tissue donors and their families who agreed to donation, DonateLife Thank You Day honoured this vital community service.
As part of Thank You Day, Transplant Australia, a national charity representing transplant recipients, donor families, living donors and all those touched by organ and tissue donation and transplantation, organised a special project on Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach.
Spreading awareness of organ donation to the Australian community, as well as international tourists, a giant, hand-carved sand sculpture was created on the beach.
It was designed to resemble a ‘thank you’ card.
During the seven hours of construction, the sculpture sparked numerous conversations about organ donation, helping spread an important social message.
Living donors, transplant recipients and donor families all came together to then sign the sand sculpture card in a gesture of thanks.
“The gift of organ and tissue donation benefits not just transplant recipients, but their families, friends and society in general,” said Minister for Rural Health Fiona Nash about DonateLife Thank You Day.
“For those waiting for a transplant, organ and tissue donation can mean the difference between life and death, being healthy and sick, between seeing and being blind, or being active and never walking again. It enables people to resume an active life in their family, their workplace, their school and their community.”
Donor Families Australia Chairman Bruce McDowell said DonateLife Thank You Day was a great initiative.
“It means a lot to the families of donors to know that our loved one’s gifts are valued by recipients and the wider community. This open display of gratitude gives us much pride and we appreciate the Organ and Tissue Authority’s initiative in making this day happen.”
Across social media, on Thank You Day, Australians were encouraged to share their messages of thanks for organ donation using designated hashtags, creating video messages and relating their stories.
Sarah in Melbourne posted on her blog:
“We know first-hand just how amazing and life changing organ donation is. My husband received a donor liver approx. 1240 days ago… that’s 1240 extra days that he would not have had if he hadn’t received a new liver in time. For us, saying thank you to my husband’s donor family was very important, because of their decision to allow organ donation, my husband and maybe 10 or more others, were able to return to living life again.”
Shannon Fox in Western Australia posted: “Today is #donatelifethankyouday. Blows my mind to think less than a year ago my expiration date was looming. I’m so thankful to my donor and their family for their gift. These lungs are flipping awesome!”
Miranda Hill in New South Wales wrote:
“Yesterday was say thank you to your donor and their family day. I’ve written this post and deleted it three times over already. How can I say thank you enough? How are the words ‘thank you’ or ‘grateful’ even close enough to how I feel? To me they are just words and no good without any action. So today, and every single day for the rest of my life, I am living my thank you.
I’m thankful to wake up in the morning and feel well.
I’m thankful to breathe.
I’m thankful to be regaining my fitness.
I’m thankful for the smallest of things as much as I am for the big moments.
You’ve given me a gift and the only way I know how to be grateful is to use it.
Live, dream, laugh and run like I’ve never done it before.”
Sam Kelly Walker posted: “Thank you to the family of my husband’s donor, without your heartbreaking decision to donate your loved one’s organs I would not have my husband, my best friend, my soulmate or my beautiful children. You are all my heroes. I think about you every day and will forever be grateful.”
An Organ and Tissue Authority survey from 2014 found seven in 10 Australians believe organ and tissue donation to be the ultimate act of generosity.
Last year, 1,117 Australians received an organ transplant thanks to 378 organ donors whose families agreed to donation at the time of their loved one’s death.
Families who have discussed organ and tissue donation with each other, no matter how brief the conversation, find the donation decision considerably easier than families who have never had the discussion.
Have the chat with your family today.