Grandmother donated 'the gift of life'
SUSI Daunton, 72, beamed as she posed for a photo with intensive care unit lead Dr Mike Lindley-Jones in the lobby of Tweed Hospital on Tuesday.
Seven years ago the Tweed Daily News took a photograph of the Stokers Siding grandmother, except on that occasion, the story headline story was "Save Me".
Clinging to life on a difficult regiment of kidney dialysis, Mrs Daunton was suffering a chronic renal failure, caused by a genetic condition.
As one of 1,700 people on the national organ donation waiting list, with more than two thirds of those requiring a kidney, the odds were stacked against her.
The dream of watching her grandchildren grow up finally came with a phone call in 2016, after Mrs Daunton had sat by the dialysis machine three days a week for nine years.
"A doctor said we've 'got a kidney for you' and I was speechless for what felt like 10 minutes," Mrs Daunton recalls.
"I shook all the way to the hospital, I didn't drive, and at 4pm that day, I went into gowns for surgery."
Today, Mrs Daunton enjoys life's simple pleasures - shopping at produce markets and yoga - while giving daily gratitude to her organ donor.
"I can't begin to tell you how grateful and how blessed I feel to get a gift like this, it's incomparable," Mrs Daunton said.
"You know someone has had to give up their life, maybe not intentionally, and you are benefiting from that gift.
"I've been doing the best I can to look after my kidney and, this might sound strange, but I do Reiki and hope that it feels loved - like it's part of me - and I thank the person that gave it to me."
Dr Lindley-Jones has teamed with Tweed Hospital donor nurse specialist Mary Campbell for the last eight years to increase organ donation in the Northern NSW Local Health District, for recipients like Mrs Daunton.
This year, our regions' rate of donations is 40 per million of the population - which is double the national average of 20 per million.
If the figures seem slim - they are - making each decision to donate even more precious.
"Most people are not aware the opportunity for organ donation is rare," Dr Lindley-Jones said.
"Less than 2% of all hospital deaths are in the specific circumstances where organ donation can be considered.
"To optimise every opportunity to save lives, we all need to register and discuss our donation decision."
Dr Linldey-Jones urged residents to register to donate through the Donate Life website or through the Medicare office with a form.
Residents are reminded that as of this year, the Drivers' Licence is no longer a valid way to register yourself as an organ donor.
"Registration is important because it leaves your family in no doubt of your decision to save lives as an organ and tissue donor," Dr Lindley-Jones said.
"Even if you have previously made a decision about organ and tissue donation, DonateLife Week is a great opportunity to remind your family about your donation decision, and to ask and know their decision."
This year's DonateLife week is on from Sunday, July 30 to Sunday, August, 6.
Visit donatelife.gov.au to register.
In 2016 a record 1,713 lives were saved through the generosity of 503 deceased organ donors and 267 living donors
Around 1,400 Australians are on the transplant waiting lists today
One organ and tissue donor can transform the lives of 10 or more people
Australia is a world leader for successful transplant outcomes