If you are heading out for a walk this week, there is an extra reason to make those steps more meaningful by supporting the annual Gift of Life DonateLife Walk from 22-28 February.
More than 2300 people have registered for the walk that raises awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation and registration.
One of the unanticipated benefits of the virtual walk has been the strong support from interstate, with more than 20 per cent of registered participants from outside the ACT.
Gift of Life president Catherine Scott said there are hundreds of stories of people in the ACT who have the gift of life from organ donation, including Catherine’s own story of receiving a corneal transplant in both eyes.
She had surgery on her left eye in 2015 and 2017, both times requiring corneal tissue to save her sight, and the process will need to be repeated for her right eye in the coming years.
“I think of my four donor families every day and am so very grateful for the amazing gift of sight and the quality of life they have given me,” said Ms Scott. “I acknowledge their generosity and kindness at a time of deep sorrow and thank them in my heart each day.”
This year’s event to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation will be a little different from the traditional 5km walk around Lake Burley Griffin.
Participants will instead walk in teams, family groups or as individuals at any time throughout the week and upload their photos to social media to show their support.
Participants are encouraged to share their walk photos and videos on social media using the hashtags #giftoflifewalk and #giftoflifewalk2021 to generate conversations about organ and tissue donor registration.
ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk has become a key event in the Canberra community, bringing donor families, donor recipients and community members together to promote organ donation.
“Hundreds of lives in Australia are transformed and saved each year through the generosity of organ and tissue donors and their families,” she said. “In 2020, 13 organ donors gave the ultimate gift of life in the ACT. Typically, each organ donor saves four to five lives.
“We know many people in Canberra support organ donation but have not had the conversation with family and friends about their wishes or officially registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register.
Ms Stephen-Smith said only 25 per cent of adults in the ACT are registered as organ and tissue donors, which is less than the national average of 34 per cent.
“It is important to have a conversation about organ donation with family and friends to make your wishes about organ donation known,” she said.
“This week is the time to start the conversation with your loved ones. If you want to be a donor, it’s important to register and to let your family know your wishes.”
More information about Gift of Life and how to sign up for the DonateLife Walk 2021 is on the Gift of Life website. You can also learn more about organ and tissue donation, and register as an organ and tissue donor on the DonateLife website.