This morning my husband and I got up early, collected our morning Chai teas, and headed into the Austin Hospital.

Not for any medical reason…this visit was different…we were working as volunteers at the information table for the Donatelife Week 2104.

My husband had done this last year, but I missed out due to work commitments, so I was determined to come along and help this time!

A DonateLife table is set up in the hospital foyer…conveniently near the entrance to the cafe….and the volunteers provide forms for registering, plus information brochures and some merchandise…everyone loves something for free!

DonateLife Week 2014

There was a large jar of lollies for a “Guess the Number Competition”….I had no idea but guessed 1013…then was worried that was way too many….oh well…I can’t eat them anyway!

Guess the number

My husband and I spent from 9am till about 1pm talking to people about what it is like to wait for, and eventually receive, a donor organ, as well as answering any questions they had.

At one stage, five of the volunteers were liver transplants recipients….plus me!

Hard to believe these two have had liver transplants….picture of health now!

Liver Transplant RecipientsJas and Norm – liver transplant recipients

We had DonateLife transfers which were quite popular…this guy was a staff member who came over specially to get one!


While we were there, we were able to catch up with some of the wonderful staff that we have met since we have been going to the Austin.

It was particularly great to speak to a couple of nurses who hadn’t seen Jas for ages, and for them to see how well he is doing.

GroupJas and Norm with a couple of the wonderful staff from the Austin Hospital

We also had the pleasure of chatting to one of the surgeons from the Liver Transplant team – Mr Boa Zhong Wang, aka BZ.

I hadn’t spoken to BZ before… although I believe he may have been one of surgeons who did Jas’s transplant…but it was fascinating to hear what liver transplantation is like for the surgical team.

They are constantly on call…we asked him what he does to relax…he doesn’t! They have to be close by so they can get back into the hospital if there is an issue with a patient.

And the good news is that he has been very busy with a couple of transplants in the last few days…one of which went all night…something like 16 hours straight…with lots of blood…too much information?

He was happy to answer the questions we had…I asked why in Australia, the surgeons use a reverse L incision, whereas in the USA, they do a “Mercedes” logo incision.

It was really interesting to find out that the reason it is done that way at this Unit, is so the muscles aren’t cut on both sides of the stomach, which means the patient is able to get up and move as soon as is possible.

In the USA, the patient often is stuck in bed for days before they can move.

It is medical processes such as that, plus the amazing Liver Transplant team, that makes us realise how lucky we are to live in Melbourne, Australia.

DonateLife Band

As this is the first time I have volunteered at the hospital, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed talking to people about organ donation and hearing their stories.

Quite a few people came up to specifically ask for a form, saying that they had been been meaning to register and were now ready…others took forms to give to family and friends.

At least 7 people signed up on the spot during the time we were there, which was just heartwarming.

We headed home, feeling happy that we were able to provide the opportunity for people to register, and the fact we were able to share our story with others.

And one last thing, please talk to your loved ones about your decision…because even if you are registered, they can overide your wish to be a donor if the situation ever arises…strange set up but that is the way it is.

Make sure everyone knows that you wish to be an organ donor, then no-one should make the decision for you!

Every single new registration may one day save at least one person, just like my husband…and speaking as someone who has been there, we are so grateful for each and every one who makes the decision to be an organ donor!


For more info on organ donation, visit the DonateLife website!