Transplant patient makes Valentine's Day appeal to have a heart

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More Australian lives were saved from organ donation last year than ever before. 2013 saw organ donation increase by 10 per cent on 2012. Health Authorities are pleased with the increase but say it can still improve with more than 1,000 people still on the waiting list.

Amanda Hill knows how important making that simple decision to become a donor can be. She sees every day as a bonus. Two years ago, a virus left her life in the balance and her heart working at 5 per cent capacity.

"It wasn't pumping properly so my liver kidney's everything was just failing," she told SBS.

She was lucky enough to find a viable heart donor in time. Eighteen months ago she had lifesaving surgery and now has a new heart.

"It's hard to know what to say, 'thank you is just not enough'."

The fact that she’s alive because of the generosity of someone she never knew has changed her forever, physically and emotionally.

"Simple things like feeling the grass on your feet and sniffing fresh flowers and things, as lame as it sounds, I don’t take it for granted anymore," Amanda says.

She also recently got engaged to her long-time friend Joe and the pair is looking forward to a long happy life together.

Their romantic story is in the spirit of the Valentine's Day launch of the Donate Life campaign, which is run annually by the Organ and Tissue Authority. The group’s CEO, Yael Cass, says the week is about starting a conversation.

"It's a week where we encourage the community to have the chat that saves lives, to talk about organ and tissue donation because every donor can save the life of ten people in Australia."

Amanda Hill says she supports the campaign because it saves lives.

"Have the discussion, I mean, obviously whoever gave me their organ didn't know that they were going to die."

"But they must have had the discussion with their family and they've helped me live as a 22 year old."

Rory Thomas says he also supports the campaign, knowing that organ donation is a difficult decision to make when friends and family are still grieving.

He lost his mother, Julie, suddenly and unexpectedly last year. He says he and his three siblings didn't have to think when they were asked about donating her organs because they had spoken about it.

"It really does help knowing that her death wasn't meaningless that she was able to give eight people the gift of life or the gift of health, and her heart's still beating and her lungs are still breathing," Rory says.

Only 1 per cent of people who die in hospitals are eligible to become donors, with many never telling their families whether or not they want to donate.

Organ transplant authorities say that in Australia, a patient is much more likely to need an organ than to receive an organ. There is currently a waiting list of more than 1,000 people. That highlights the importance of telling loved ones whether or not you want to donate.

Source SBS

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