Each year, DonateLife holds remembrance services across Australia, and yesterday was the Melbourne service.
It is a special event that has become very important to us…this is the third one we have attended.
The remembrance service is one of the few times that people from all steps of the organ donation process gather together in one place.
There are donor families and friends, medical staff and transplant recipients with their loved ones…every person there has been affected by organ donation in some way.
Yesterday’s service had five speakers…the first two gave us insights into their family members who had become organ donors….there were tears…and laughter…and fond memories.
Then we heard from Dr Steve Philpot, Intensive Care Specialist at the Alfred Hospital and lead Medical Donation Specialist.
He spoke of the emotional struggles experienced by staff…the grief of not being able to give patients the one thing they need in time, and the joy of being part of patients return to normal, happy and healthy lives after transplantation.
The last two speakers of the service were recipients…the first had received a liver transplant, the second a kidney transplant.
Both spoke of how grateful they are to have received their second chance at life, all due to organ donation.
It is something both my husband and I can very much to relate to…
We were sitting upstairs amongst some donor families, and during the service, their grief was real, and in some cases, still very raw.
But alongside that grief was a feeling of pride…pride that their loved ones have changed the lives of so many others.
For us as recipients and family/friends, it is a very emotional service…we are torn between celebrating life through organ donation, and great sadness, because we are well aware that there are families grieving…
My husband’s donor family may have even been in the hall yesterday…
One of the donor family speakers spoke of how wonderful it was to receive letters from some of the recipients, and that they took great comfort in hearing how they are all doing.
My husband and I both wrote letters to the donor family about 8 months or so after transplant, and we are one of the few that we know of who have received a letter back.
In Australia, privacy and anonymity regarding donors is fiercely guarded so only limited information can be shared, but it is enough to get a glimpse of the other…for us to know a little about my husband’s donor, and for them to know that we are eternally grateful and that by allowing organ donation, an amazing difference has been made to our lives.
As we were heading home after the service, we both said how it is time for us to write again…to let the family know how well my husband is and that we are not wasting a minute…and never will!