Lung transplant recipient thanks donor for changing his life
LEADING up to DonateLife Week, organ donor recipient Ben Smith from Tweed Heads urged residents to talk with their loved ones about becoming a donor.
"That's why I'm here today ... someone else donated their organs to me," he said.
Mr Smith had a double lung transplant in 2006 to treat cystic fibrosis, which he said had changed his life completely.
"With cystic fibrosis you always feel tired ... I didn't enjoy food because you're never hungry," he said.
"I have a son now who is seven, and none of that would have happened if I didn't have a transplant."
Organ donation medical specialist Dr Michael Lindley-Jones said the community needed more donors.
"There's a massive difference between the number of people waiting for trans-plants and the number of organs that we have," Dr Lindley-Jones said.
"We sadly have a lot of people who are waiting for transplants who don't survive."
Mr Smith said organ donors not only changed the lives of the recipients and their families but also future generations.
"That's the big thing of life ... passing on something else, it goes on for generations," he said.
"My son will probably have a family of his own and that's another generation that started."
Northern NSW Local Health District chief of staff Wayne Jones said in the lead-up to DonateLife Week next week that people should make their wishes clear.
"We encourage people to have a chat with their family and friends about their willingness to donate in the tragic event of their death," he said.
Mr Jones said that one person's organ donation could save up to 10 lives.
To become an organ donor having that conversation is crucial, but there is also a registration process.
"There's two ways to register," Dr Lindley-Jones said.
"One is you go online, and the second one is to go to your Medicare office.
"If anybody is prepared to accept a transplant they should be prepared to be an organ donor as well."
DonateLife Week is a national campaign beginning on Sunday.
The Northern NSW Local Health District has spons-ored bus ads promoting the week-long event.
The ads appear on six buses around the Lismore and Tweed Heads areas and encourage readers to "have a chat" about organ donation.
A Cycle/Walk for Life day will also be held on Sunday to teach community members about organ and tissue donation.