It's Donate Life Week from 24 February - 3 March, and I urge you to consider registering to be an organ or tissue donor, as well has having the conversation about your wishes with your family.
The Donate Life website states:
"In 2012, 354 organ donors gave 1,052 Australians a new chance in life. The number of organ donors and transplant recipients in 2012 was the highest since national records began.
The majority of Australians are generally willing to become organ (80%) and tissue (78%) donors. Only around 1% of people actually die in hospital in the specific circumstances where organ donation is possible. The circumstances in which you can become a tissue donor are less limited. In Australia the family will always be asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased before donation can proceed. In Australia less than 60% of families give consent for organ and tissue donation to proceed. The most important thing that helps a family's decision is their knowing the wishes of their loved one."
As at 31 December 2012, just over 1 Million Australians had registered their decision to become an organ donor. You can view the registration statistics on the Medicare website.
Around 1600 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists.
Until recently, my beautiful friend Camille was on that transplant waiting list, desperate for new lungs. She is in her 30s, so very talented, and lived life to the fullest that she could, with chronic lung disease and being restricted by the waiting list. She was given the gift of life from an incredibly generous donor, with their family's permission.
She writes about her gift of life over here.
I can't imagine what Cam went through while waiting for her new lungs. She is the bravest, least complaining person I know. I saw her frustration at times, and wished that she'd get the call soon.
After she got the call from the donor coordinator, she texted me in the middle of the night, to tell me she was on her way to hospital. "Fingers crossed, I love you" I wrote back. The day was long - I checked in with her sister for news every few hours. Her own wait must have been tumultuous.
Her recovery will be long, but my gosh I've seen progress. I went to visit her two weekends ago. She was in high spirits, talking a mile a minute. I am so happy she's here.We took some photos of ourselves together - the first we have taken in our three year friendship. Because we are too busy taking pictures of food.
She's made considerable progress since my first vist. She's now able to breathe without the assistance of oxygen.
I said to Camille, I met her because of her old lungs. She and I both write for the disability website Divine. I tracked her down on Facebook after I read her article about being a blogger. And we became friends. The first time I met her in person she was in hospital too. I also said to her that her new lungs will enable us to share laughs and cake for years to come.
Cam has a pinboard next to her bed in the hospital ward. It's filled with pictures from her nephews, cards and pretty coloured paper. There's also a list of things she will do now she's got new lungs. Ride a bike. Walk. Go on a holiday. Shoot hoops. The things that most people take for granted. I added to that list. See bands with Carly.
And we will. I can't wait.
Camille is a huge INXS fan and I can't help think how apt the line "we all have wings, but some of us don't know why" is to her situation. I am so grateful to her donor and their family.
Please consider registering your decision to become an organ or tissue donor. Those on the waiting list need the gift of life. They're someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's friend. My friend. It's the most loving thing you can do for a stranger.
Visit www.donatelife.gov.au for more information.
There's a little competition for Donate Life Week called FilmLife. Now Camille is recovering from her transplant, I've been appointed a judge of the competion. You may want to enter, or know someone who is eligible to enter.
FilmLIfe project is using creativity to spark vital conversations about organ and tissue donation in young people. Using filmmaking and blogging to create awareness provides a fresh approach to this life saving social issue.
We are inviting young filmmakers aged 16-28 to submit a film using the theme of DonateLife Week 2013: “Make your wish count. Discover, decide and discuss organ and tissue donation”.
The deadline for all film submissions is midnight on 25 March. Winners will be announced at the FilmLife Festival official screening on 13 April.
Awards will be given for the Best Film, Best Interpretation of the Theme and the People’s Choice award. Filmmakers get national exposure for their work through the DonateLife network and be in the running for great prizes including the Canon 5D and over $2500 in prizes. This we will also have a prize for the best blog in our Blogging challenge.
For more details and information about FilmLife workshops, blogging comp and film festival please go to www.filmlife.com.au, join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.