I’ve been thinking a lot about my donor and their family in the last few weeks. Now that I’m well enough to have something other than recovery on my mind, I’m becoming increasingly curious about who my new liver came from and how I can thank their loved ones for making the difficult decision to donate.
Here in Australia donors and recipients are kept anonymous, and while there are ways around the system it’s not recommended that transplant patients reach out to a donor’s family directly. I completely understand why these boundaries have been put in place, but it’s such a strange feeling to owe your well-being to a group of people you’ll never get to know. DonateLife do have a correspondence service which allows me to send a card or a letter to the donor’s family, so long as no personal information is included. Of course I’m grateful that I’ll have an opportunity to let my donor’s loved ones know how incredibly thankful I am for everything they’ve done, but I can’t help but feel that the anonymity somewhat takes away from the authenticity of the message. I want them to know that they’ve made a real difference to a real person.
At any rate, when I do write them I’d like to be able to describe the massive difference their loved one has made to my life, my family’s life, and the lives of those around me. All going well, it would be brilliant to tell them that I’ve recovered to a point where I can enter the Transplant Games. I’ve never been a hugely sporty person, but I’ve read that exercise helps prolong the life of transplanted organs and participation in an event like this feels like a good way to pay tribute to my donor while making the most of the chance I’ve been given. Really, I just want to be able to say that my donor’s life was not taken in vain. My new organ is not just a chance to keep living, it’s a constant reminder of what so many people have gone through for me to be here. My donor makes my life richer every day and even if we never meet, I’d like their loved ones to know that.
If you’ve ever thought about being a donor but are unsure if you’re registered (within Australia), just click here. And for anyone already a registered donor, thank you! Just don’t forget to let your family know your decision.