Donate life, become an organ donor
IT'S A conversation all families need to have with partners, children and grandchildren present - the decision to become an organ donor.
This is Donate Life week and its theme is "Ask and Know Your Loved One's Donation Wishes".
Organ and tissue donation can save lives - in the case of heart, liver and lung transplants it can happen immediately when a patient waiting for a transplant could die quickly if no organ becomes available. Australia has a very low rate of organ donation compared with other developed nations.
Corneas can restore sight. Kidney transplants can take people off dialysis and back to a normal life. Pancreas transplants can cure Type One diabetes.
Nobody knows the value of a donated organ better than heart transplant recipient, Louise Owen, president of the Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce and vice-president of the Lennox Head Residents' Association.
Ms Owen had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - thickening of the heart muscle, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body. She had a cardiac arrest in 1990 and for the following nine years, her condition deteriorated. She was on the transplant list for just 11 weeks when a donated heart became available.
"I don't know whose heart it was, but it was someone less than half my age," Ms Owen told The Northern Star.
"Most importantly, it was from someone whose family had had that conversation, and gave permission for the loved one's organs to be donated.
"I want to thank that family. I'm so grateful they made a wonderful decision."
Clinical nurse specialist Mary Campbell said people could make their decision to be an organ donor known through the website donatelife.gov.au.
"Let's make time this Donate Life week to ask and know the wishes of our loved ones about organ and tissue donation so we can save lives and make a difference," Ms Campbell said.