FAMILY and friends of a cyclist who sustained a fatal head injury in a freak accident at Foster in June have derived a measure of comfort from knowing how many lives have been saved through the donation of his organs and tissues.
“Our loss, as horrible as it is, has saved at least seven families from going through the grief we’ve had to go through. That is some comfort,” said Emma Joy, whose 40-year-old husband Glenn was fatally injured when he came off his bike on the Boolarra-Foster Road.
The Fish Creek couple were both registered with the Australian Organ Donor Register. They had talked about organ donation, while never imagining the situation would arise, and Emma said she was positive Glenn would have wanted to help.
“I felt I was respecting his wishes, even though it was a traumatic experience,” said Emma.
She was full of praise for the organ donor team at Royal Melbourne Hospital. “They were very supportive of the family, answering any questions we had, and they have provided ongoing support.”
A letter to Emma and her family from the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority, DonateLife, shows the far-reaching effect of Glenn’s donation.
“Six fortunate people have received a transplant and been given an opportunity for improved health and a better quality of life,” wrote organ donor coordinator Victoria Dale. “Many more recipients will benefit from Glenn’s generous tissue donation over the coming months.”
Glenn’s heart was successfully transplanted into a middle-aged man who had been unwell for many years. The recipient of his left lung was also a middle-aged man, while his right lung went to an older man and his liver to a middle-aged man who had been desperately unwell prior to his transplant. Glenn’s pancreas and left kidney were given to a middle-aged man who had been suffering from debilitating diabetes but was able to go home soon after surgery. Glenn’s right kidney went to an older man who had been dialysis dependent for more than two years. Both kidney recipients are anticipating life free from the constraint of dialysis.
Glenn’s corneas were donated, too, with the corneal transplants expected to restore sight to two recipients with severely impaired vision. Glenn’s sclera tissue (essentially the white of the eye) was also donated, to be used in reconstructive surgery to give a more natural appearance to recipients who have suffered from eye disease or trauma.
“Skin, bone and tendon tissue from Glenn has been donated and stored for transplantation at a later date. Glenn’s donated skin will provide lifesaving skin grafts to multiple recipients, whilst Glenn’s donated bone and tendon tissue will play a vital role in the restoration of patients’ mobility. These tissue transplants will make an enormous difference to the quality of these patients’ lives,” said the organ donor coordinator.
Mindful of how few donors there are and how great the need is, Emma urges other people to consider registering for organ and tissue donation and, importantly, to discuss their wishes with members of their family long before they are called on. “You never know when it could happen to you or a loved one.”
This week – Sunday August 2 to Sunday August 9 – is DonateLife Week, the national awareness week to promote organ and tissue donation in Australia. There’s no better time to consider registering to be a life saving donor. Go to the website www.donatelife.gov.au to find out more.