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Organ donor gave Colin life

Colin and Karen Sallaway with their children Olivia and Jonathan know better than anyone the value of time, having enjoyed the past decade together because Colin was fortunate to be given a donor kidney.
Colin and Karen Sallaway with their children Olivia and Jonathan know better than anyone the value of time, having enjoyed the past decade together because Colin was fortunate to be given a donor kidney. Contributed

ONE family's selfless decision to allow their loved one's death to give a stranger life has afforded Gympie man Colin Sallaway a precious second chance.

Colin would never have seen his son turn into a strong, capable young man who joined the air force.

Nor would he have seen his daughter grow into a beautiful young woman now attending university, had it not been for one family's decision to fulfil their loved one's wish of organ donation.

Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of Colin Sallaway's successful kidney transplant giving him a second chance at life - and he is making the most of it by embracing life in the way that only those who have come face to face with their own mortality can do.

"I still see the nephrologist every three months," he said. "I am on a huge package of medication to stop rejection and medication is improving all the time.

"We (along with wife Karen) still have people coming up to us because they remember the story in The Gympie Times back in 2002."

Of course Colin has to look after himself and he religiously takes his medication and follows doctor's orders.

"We've had a couple of overseas trips and went to the Melbourne Cup last year, which could not have happened even when I was on dialysis," he said.

"We've always been advocates of transplant and donors and often attend the annual celebrations at Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast.

"It's not just the recipients who speak at these celebrations but the donor families too."

Colin and Karen acknowledge the topic of organ transplant and putting that all-important tick on your driver's licence is "very sensitive" because for a family to give permission for their loved one's organ to be transplanted, that loved one has to be on life support.

Despite the many stressful times, Colin's illness, IGA nephritis, has brought a close family even closer. IGA is a kidney disorder that occurs when IGA - a protein that helps the body fight infections - settles in the kidneys. After many years, the IGA deposits may cause the kidneys to leak blood and sometimes protein in the urine.

"You tend to take life for granted when everything is running smoothly. We know how lucky we are. I even wrote to the donor family 12 months after the transplant," he said.

Colin has been told his condition is not hereditary but he and Karen had their children Jonathan, 22, and Olivia, 19, tested. Thankfully those tests came back clear.

"We feel so blessed. We never thought 'poor us'. We just got on and did what we had to do."

Colin was first told he would one day need a kidney transplant about 30 years ago.

When he was 35, his condition got "really serious" and was treated at the Nambour renal unit.

"The Princess Alexandra Hospital was looking for people who could drive one of these hemo dialysis machines and they wanted me to trial it."

He used a hemo dialysis machine at home for about two-and-a-half years before he got the phone call that changed his life - or indeed gave him life.

That phone call came on April 12, 2002 at 2.45am - when a donor became available.

"The donor is in our daily prayers.

"The one thing that day emphasised was that a transplant is a privilege and not a right.

"The most important thing for families to do is to discuss donation before a death in the family occurs so that everyone is aware of their loved one's wishes in relation to organ donation."

There are a number of informative websites, including donatelife.gov.au, that answers the most-asked questions in relation to organ donation.

Gympie Times

Topics:  organ donation


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