'Life Giving Stories' raise awareness about organ donation

Performance art and organ donation don't usually mix. But a new initiative has combined the two, in a bid to raise awareness in multicultural communities.

Fulvia Nisyrios knows more about organ donation than most people.

Her father received a liver transplant in 1989, and three years ago a painful decision was made to donate her mother's organs after she was hit by a car.

“If anything, donating mum's organs has given us a lot of comfort. Knowing that two people, someone in their 40’s and someone in their 50’s are alive with my mum's kidneys,” Ms Nisyrios  said.

She’s one of five speakers taking to the stage for Live Giving Stories- an initiative of the New South Wales Multicultural Health Communication Service.

Directed by photographer William Yang, it sees storytellers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds share their experience with organ donation.

“They’re very powerful stories because they’re about life and death,” Mr Yang said.

“They're actually very brave to tell their stories in public.”

“I was on death row. It was either find a liver or there was no chance.” 

A liver transplant saved Melissa Kozlina's life, after she was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.

“I was on death row. It was either find a liver or there was no chance,” said Ms Kozlina.

The Serbian-Australian said she was unsure at the time if accepting the transplant would conflict with her Orthodox faith.

It didn't and now she's working to dispel common misconceptions about organ donation in her community.

“The community is much more aware than ever, but I still don’t think we’ve reached that many people so the more we get out there and more people find out the better.”

More than 1600 people are on organ transplant waiting lists across the country, at any one time.

Experts say there needs to be more discussion about organ donation, especially in multicultural communities.

It's really important to ensure that the individuals that have come from a different country understand what the healthcare system can provide here in Australia,” said organ and tissue donation expert, Dr Elena Cavazzoni. 

“And certainly make them understand that it's an offer, not an obligation.”

The 'Life Giving Stories' organisers hope the initiative will eventually tour and be able to reach people nationwide.