Mother of two, foster mother to 14, reflects on gift of organ donation


Organ donor recipient Belinda Biggs with sons Matthew Biggs (24), Alex Hazell (19) and Lilly the dog, of Woodbridge.
Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au   d462255
Organ donor recipient Belinda Biggs with sons Matthew Biggs (24), Alex Hazell (19) and Lilly the dog, of Woodbridge. Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au d462255

ANYONE undecided about registering for organ and tissue donation would be encouraged to hear the donor journey of Belinda Biggs.

The loss of the Woodbridge mother’s life would have affected the lives of many people.

Her two sons would not have had their mother for the past 10 years and the 14 children they fostered would have missed a loving home experience.

If a family had decided not to donate just as they lost their son, the course of her life would have taken a different direction.

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Given the opportunity to thank her donor family face-to-face, Belinda said she knew exactly what she would say.

“There would be no expression of words that could adequately convey my gratitude for the life you’ve given me back,” she said.

“I certainly wouldn’t be here without my donor, who was a young boy I was told, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him,” she said.

Belinda used her double transplant as a springboard to live life differently, not just for her sons Matthew and Alex, but also for the ‘potential’ her young donor’s life could have been.

“Honouring him and the gift he gave me is always on my mind,” she said.

In the past six years, Belinda has fostered many babies and toddlers, supported by her sons, and helped raise children aged up to 14 years.

Her donor journey encouraged her to bring together a collection of inspiring memoirs after she struggled to find uplifting stories to read during her treatment.

“The concept for the collection came to me when I was on dialysis,” she said.

“Books were too heavy to hold and concentrate on, and I found many mainstream publications were not very positive.

“I thought if I survived the process of dialysis, and received the gift of life again, I would create a magazine of short-format stories that would inspire and uplift people.

“I soon realised the need went far beyond people who were ill; instant and meaningful inspiration is something so many people are craving.

“They need to feel a connection with other people who are going through similar life challenges, yet still achieving and living a life that is making a difference out there,” she said.

Belinda launched Inspire Journal in August 2008, a year after her kidney and pancreas transplant, and she dedicated the first journal to her donor and her sons.

Belinda’s donor journey began in 2006 when damage to her kidneys caused by type 1 diabetes led to renal failure.

She was aged 29 and a single mother who had to endure dialysis up to four times a week for 10 months.

Her condition worsened until she often could not walk up the two steps to her front door and her sons, then aged 14 and nine, were registered as young carers with the support of family, friends, and Silver Chain.

Her life-saving journey started when there was a fire on the Roe Highway and her father raced from Toodyay to take her to the airport, while ground crew delayed her flight to Sydney.

Belinda’s commitment to helping young people continues with fundraising activities, among them a sponsored skydive for children’s brain cancer research.

To find out more about organ donation, visit www.donatelife. gov.au.