Over the past month, we have done quite a few speaking gigs…sharing my husband’s transplant story and talking about the importance of organ donation.

One of my favourite parts is the question time…you just never know what questions the audience will come up with!

So today, I thought I would share five questions/answers, just in case you might also be wondering what the answer is!


Why can’t you have dialysis when waiting for a donor liver?

Because dialysis is for kidneys…unfortunately there is nothing that can assist many end stage liver diseases except a transplant.

If your liver is damaged through alcohol or drugs, often it can repair itself to some degree if the cause is removed.

But for autoimmune diseases such as what my husband had (PSC), there is nothing that can be done except replace it with a new one!

And if the new liver doesn’t work when it’s transplanted, you are in dire straits…you will need another one ASAP as you cannot survive without a working liver.

Is your donor dead?

Basically, yes….to donate solid organs such as heart, lungs and liver, the organ donor has to be deceased.

But in so saying, there are some transplants that can be done from living donors…for example, kidney and bone marrow.

In Australia, they are also starting to do liver transplants from live donors….such as an adult giving part of their liver to a child.

There is great risk involved to the donor but in some cases, it might be the recipients only chance at survival.

How big is your scar?

It’s a good one…my husband jokingly calls it his shark bite!

They do what is known as a reversal L here in Melbourne, but in other states and overseas, you often see the “Mercedes” incision.

My husband’s scar has been re-opened once due to having to have a hernia repaired, but this is almost 4 years post transplant…


Can you become an organ donor in the future if you have had a transplant?

The answer is almost everyone can become a donor….age and medical history are all taken into consideration.

My husband’s donor liver could not be re-used, but it may be possible to use some of his other organs and tissues.

Have you met your donor’s family?

In Australia, direct contact between donor families and recipients is not allowed…although it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

For example, if a high profile recipient receives a donor organ, then the family may work out the connection and a meeting may be arranged.

However, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have contact at all….recipients are encouraged to write to their donor family, and their letter is sent via DonateLife who make sure there are no identifying details, photos etc.

The letter is then sent onto the family who can reply through the same channels.

Both my husband and I wrote to the donor family about 6 months after transplant, and we are one of the few that have actually received a letter back.

But to be honest, neither of us want to actually meet the donor family…what if you ended up disliking each other, or the other person stood for everything you hate?

That does sound extreme, but we refer to have an image of the donor which we have gleaned from the letter, and will remain forever grateful that permission for organ donation was given.

To read more about organ and tissue donation in Australia, click here to go to the DonateLife website.

And if you have any questions about liver transplants and organ donation, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below or contact us directly.