I was only 11 months old when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I suffered terrible complications growing up, including vision loss, nerve damage in my hands and feet, and severe hypoglycemia – to the point where I would sometimes lose consciousness.
Life was already tough. Then, at age 27, I was diagnosed with kidney failure and placed on dialysis. Being on dialysis meant I was travelling to and from hospital four days a week. I had no energy and couldn’t socialise or do the things normal 27 year olds do.
I’ll never forget the day I received that life-changing call from my transplant coordinator. It was 7.30pm and I was dialysing at the hospital when I was told I would receive my kidney and pancreas transplant. Had I not been so lucky to receive that gift of life, I may not have lived to see Christmas that year.
Post transplant, life changed completely. Inspired by my new lease on life, I followed my passion and opened my own cakes and desserts business. I had the energy to leave the house and enjoy every moment with my loved ones.
I will be forever thankful to my donor and their family, and make the most of every day as a way of honouring their generous gift. I also do what I can to raise awareness about the importance of donation, because with 12,000 Australians currently on dialysis, and around 1400 people waiting for a transplant, we need more registered donors.
Latest research shows that while the majority of Australians (67%) are willing to donate organs and tissue, just 34% have registered their decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register.
Thanks to a new online registration form, it’s now possible to sign up as a lifesaving donor in around two minutes – less time than it takes to make a cup of tea.
In the lead up to DonateLife Week (July 30-August 6), I urge every Australian to make their donation decision count by heading to donatelife.gov.au and registering their donation decision.
Once you’ve made the commitment, share your decision with your loved ones and encourage your family and friends to do the same. The more registered donors there are, the more opportunities there’ll be to change and save lives – lives just like mine.
Patricia Scheetz is a kidney and pancreas transplant recipient. For more information about DonateLife Week or to register as a donor visit donatelife.gov.au.