Have the Conversation – Make it Count

On the saddest day of my life, I never expected to also have to make the biggest decision of my life.

My Dad, my hero, my person, passed away unexpectedly and within a few short hours of losing him the phone rang – it was a counsellor from Donate Life.

“We are so sorry for the loss of your Dad but we need to make this call because there is a possibility with organ donation we can save someone else’s.


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“Your Dad hasn’t indicated whether he wanted to be an organ donor, do you know what he would want?”

I clenched the phone to my chest and with a broken heart called out to my Mum and sisters to ask whether Dad had ever told them.

Everyone was too devastated to talk and could only manage to shake their heads to indicate they didn’t know. I had no idea what my Dad’s views were about organ donation, and I had to give an answer then and there or else there would be no time to donate any viable organs.

My Dad was a generous man and what was his was yours if you wanted it, so through an ocean of tears I blurted out, “If there’s anything that’s any good, then take it, I’ve got doubts about his liver though as he didn’t mind the occasional beer.”

The lady on the other end of the line chuckled, thanked me and went about organising the paperwork.

To this day I don’t know whether that was what Dad truly wanted. What I am absolutely certain about is that my Dad would have never wanted me to have to make that decision, particularly when I was in a state of overwhelming grief.

At Maurice Blackburn we have the honour and privilege of assisting families who have a lost loved one in tragic circumstances. These families only want to act in ways that honour the wishes and memory of those they have sadly lost. Where this becomes difficult from a legal point of view is when those wishes are unknown.

Discussing your wishes with your family is one of the most important conversations you can ever have. Donate Life report that around 1500 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists at any one time and the single most important thing that helps a family’s decision is knowing the donation decision of their loved one. One organ and tissue donor can transform the lives of 10 or more people.

On Friday 31 August 2018 I encourage the Gold Coast Community to wear their favourite sporting jersey to show their support for the Donate Life network and begin the conversation with their friends and families about Organ Donation. Jersey Day has been inspired by the story of Nathan Gremmo who was tragically lost in an accident in May 2015. Nathan’s family chose to give the gift of life to others to honour the legacy of Nathan’s generous personality.

I have to end this on a positive note, as that was something my Dad always did. About a year later I got a letter in the mail advising me that Dad’s eye tissue had been donated and someone who had lost their vision could now see. I will forever be heartened to know that the kindest and wisest eyes I have ever seen are still helping to keep an eye on this world.

So this Friday I will proudly wear a maroons jersey which belonged to my Dad and I will have the conversation with those closest to me about organ donation.

For more information about Jersey Day and Organ Donation visit www.jerseyday.com.au and www.donatelife.gov.au #makeitcount #donatelife

Claire Gibbs is the managing lawyer of the Gold Coast office of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Australia’s leading social justice law firm. Claire specialises in insurance litigation and is an experienced negotiator with expertise in motor vehicle, public liability and workers compensation law.
Claire never does things by halves and is also the “multi-mum” of a toddler and twins. A proud local, Claire is passionate about standing up for the rights of everyday Gold Coasters.

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