A QUINNS Rocks mother is encouraging more people to sign up as organ and tissue donors this DonateLife Week.
Michelle Clark is a registered donor and also a recipient, having had cornea transplants two decades ago.
“For someone who is waiting for a heart or lung transplant, it’s going to save their life,” she said.
“Your organs can go on and save multiple lives.
“Mine is not life-saving like a heart, lung or kidney, but it is life-changing.”
Mrs Clark said she had keratoconus and had to have operations on both eyes, with the first in September 1994 and the second in November 1995.
“The back of the eye is OK, but the front goes out in a cone shape, instead of being round,” she said.
Both her transplants lasted longer than the expected 15 years, but Mrs Clark’s sight has started to deteriorate again and she is back on the public wait list for cornea transplants.
“They have maxed out the strength of the glasses and lenses (and) now it’s a matter of having the transplant, having that gift,” she said.
“Without the transplants, my vision would just get worse and worse.
“It’s a gift to me because it enables me to see, but at the expense of another family’s sadness.”
Mrs Clark, who works in health care, said she felt lucky that she could get transplants.
“I’m a major advocate for DonateLife – what they do saves lives and changes live and improves lives,” she said.
While talking about death and organ donation could be hard, Mrs Clark said it was important to have relatives’ support.
“The most important thing is that people do tell their family and friends when they do become a donor, so that everyone can support that decision,” she said.
Mrs Clark said her husband Anton and sons Jac and Joshua also felt organ donation was “what should be done”.
DonateLife Week to encourage people to be donors
THE Federal Government unveiled an online organ donor registration process ahead of DonateLife Week, which runs from July 30 to August 6.
The process allows people to register using a mobile phone, tablet or computer.
“Last year, a record 1713 Australians received a transplant, thanks to the generosity of 503 deceased and 267 living organ donors and their families,” Aged Care Minister and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said.
“We are encouraging more Australians to sign up, given we can and must do better, with around 1400 Australians waiting for a lifesaving transplant.”
Research commissioned by the Organ and Tissue Authority highlights the gap between the number of Australians willing to become an organ and tissue donor (67 per cent) and the number of registered donors (33 per cent).
While 90 per cent of Australians believe it is important that their family knows their donation decision, just 56 per cent have made a decision about becoming a donor and only 51 per cent have discussed the subject with loved ones.
“Joining the Australian Organ Donor Register is crucial because it leaves your family in no doubt as to your wishes,” Mr Wyatt said.
“Nine out of 10 families agree to donation when the deceased is a registered donor.”
Young adults aged 18 to 24 are the demographic most willing to receive a life-saving transplant if needed, at 75 per cent, however only 8 per cent of this age group have joined the Australian Organ Donor Register.
To register, visit www.donatelife.gov.au.