The ultimate gift. Lessons to learn from Shirley’s second chance.

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“It was about 8.30 in the morning. The doctor came in, closed the door and pulled my curtains around my hospital bed. He pulled up a chair, put his elbows on his knees and rested his chin in his hands. I remember thinking ‘this is not looking good’.”

Shirley Goode’s battle with cancer had taken a serious blow. An aggressive form of leukaemia, discovered by chance, had invaded her body and the intensive round of chemotherapy she had been given had failed. But Shirley’s story is one with a happy ending. It is with a glass of wine in her hand and tears welling in her eyes that she recalls the long and arduous road to recovery. After a second unsuccessful round of chemotherapy, Shirley underwent a bone marrow transplant. That’s the reason why she is here today. While there have been many vital elements in Shirley’s return to health, there’s no doubt in her mind why she’s able to share her story: “For me, I’m conscious all the time that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that transplant.”

The facts

  • 90 per cent of Australian’s support the idea of tissue and organ donation, but has one of the worst donation rates in the developed world.
  • One organ, eye and tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of 10 or more people.
  • Around 1600 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists.
  • On average, people on the transplant list can wait between 6 months and 4 years, though waits for up to 7 years are not uncommon and many die waiting
Why aren’t there more donors
  • In order for a person to be an organ donor they have to die of brain death, only a very small number of people die under those circumstances
  • In Australia, the family will always be asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased before donation for transplantation can proceed. If your family are not aware of your wishes, it can make it very hard for them to agree to the donation of your organs

People who want to donate their organs when they die must express their wishes to their family as they have final say.

What’s important

“The people you care about, spending time with them is just paramount and I appreciate nature so much more now. If we go for a walk in Kings Park or along the beach, I take the time to notice the weather and to look at the trees and smell the smells. I have this almost-spiritual feeling about what life’s really about rather than having to live it at 100 miles an hour and getting somewhere only to think ‘did I enjoy that?’”, Shirley says.

“I really do wish that more people would consider donation seriously. An If you can help someone have a healthier time in their life and you’re not going to suffer for it, I just don’t see why not.”

The lesson

You may know your that your sister picked her nose until the age of 12, that her middle name is Agnes and she’s secretly in love with Sylvester Stallone, but do you have any what she would like to donate her organs in the event of her death? Perhaps not, but I bet you wouldn’t think twice about accepting one if it means a second chance at life. Whether we want to donate our organs or we don’t, the people who will be making the decisions for us when we die need to know our wishes.

We need to get talking about organ donation if we want to safe lives. 

For more information (Australia) (America) (Canada) (UK) (Philippines)

Also check out this post which explores common myths associated with organ donation

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Filed under A simple challenge, A simple thought

5 responses to “The ultimate gift. Lessons to learn from Shirley’s second chance.

  1. Tomas

    Thank you for getting out this very important message. Organ donation was something that I never really thought about until my father needed a kidney. Now it’s something I think about every day. Bravo, Simple Temple.

  2. I like that you left a link a blog that goes through the myths… I think more people would donate if they knew the facts. I think people are paranoid about the level of care they would receive in a hospital if they are a donner. Wonderful post!

  3. I really appreciate your organ donation post! My niece recently had a lung transplant and the brave kind person who opted to donate their organs saved my niece’s life. I think of that person every day now and am so grateful!

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