16 July, 2022
Organ transplant push to save lives
TABLELANDS and Cairns transplant recipients are the face of a new campaign to inspire First Nations communities to think, talk and decide about organ and tissue donation.
Three grateful liver and kidney recipients and a local who has waited over three years for a life-changing kidney transplant are championing the need to de-mystify organ donation in culturally safe ways.
They have shared their moving personal stories in a series of educational resources that are designed to prompt that “life-saving yarn with your mob” as part of NAIDOC Week.
The video resources feature Atherton man Anthony Rosendale, whose kidney transplant has survived 41 years to date, making him the longest surviving First Nations transplant in Queensland.
One of the new videos features Cairns liver recipient Maddi Sivyer, 24, who recently charmed rubgy legend Sam Thaiday into throwing his support behind the organ donation campaign to save lives.
Sam interviewed Maddi for a series of podcasts which began airing last week (on Amazon or Spotify) called “A Gift Worth Giving”.
In it, Maddi describes her unlikely survival since being diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at birth, and later receiving the shocking prognosis that she had less than six months to live without a transplant.
She was just 11 years old at the time.
“Nine months later, I was thankfully still alive,” Maddi said.
“But it was tough and we really weren’t sure which way it would go.
I had to plan my own funeral and start saying goodbye – I was even giving my toys away.
“Thankfully, I received my transplant just in time.
“The way I see it is we are all going to die eventually and donating your organs is a way we can still help people when you’re gone.
Your spirit is still there, and you get to live on with the people you have saved.”
Sam Thaiday this week spoke publicly about the emotional journey interviewing many transplant recipients like Maddi, as well as some donor families.
“Hearing those stories…these people (who donate organs to those in need) are just superheroes,” he said.
Cairns Health District Donation Specialist Nurse Loren Ginders has been co-designing the video resources with First Nations people who’ve asked for better resources to help encourage more open discussion.
“Unfortunately, kidney failure disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and dialysis care is one of their main reasons for needing hospital care,” she said.
“It’s really important that we can openly talk about how organ and tissue donation occurs to make more transplants possible.
“These videos and discussion booklet are just the start of many conversations we hope to have with, and within, communities to make provide a deeper understanding of how organ donation transforms lives.”
DonateLife Week runs from 24-31 July, with the aim to get 100,000 more Australians to register as organ and tissue donors.