21 February 2018

Walk to save lives at DonateLife Walk 2018

| Sophia Brady
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Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk

Everyone is welcome at the Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk. Photos: Supplied.

Canberrans are being urged to join the Australian Organ and Tissue Donor Register ahead of this month’s annual Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk. This free event, to be held on Wednesday 28 February, will see attendees assembling at 6.45 am for a 7 am sharp start from Regatta Point next to Lake Burley Griffin. The walk itself is an important event to raise awareness about the greatest gift you can give or receive— the gift of life.

President of Gift of Life and liver recipient David O’Leary is urging Canberrans to not only get involved with the event but to make your organ donation decision known to loved ones.

“Organ donation is such an important thing,” he says.

“One organ donor can save and transform many lives and, with over 1,400 people on the transplant waiting list at any one time, it’s never been more important to register your decision,” Mr O’Leary says. “Without the gift of my liver transplant, I would not have had the past 27 years of my life.”

Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk

Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk.

“Our annual Walk is a great way for the community to see how they can be involved in changing someone’s life, and how the decision to become an organ donor is so important. There is still much more we can do to increase awareness. We hope that Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk highlights ways that people can help,” Mr O’Leary said.

One of the 1,400 Australians currently on the transplant waiting list is local Canberran, 51-year-old Kim Wilesmith.

Kim was born with a renal disease. In 1998, her kidneys had degraded to a point where they were no longer able to perform their function. Toxins from her blood and water fluid levels were building up and becoming unbalanced. Kim then began dialysis treatments which she continued for 18 months.

51-year-old Kim Wilesmith with her mum.

51-year-old Kim Wilesmith with her mum.

In 2000, Kim received a kidney transplant from her mum. However in 2008, eight years after the transplant, Kim discovered that her body was allergic to an antibiotic that had made its way into the transplanted kidney and unfortunately at that point, there was nothing more that could be done.

During Christmas 2012, Kim’s sister offered a truly selfless gift of a kidney donation. After tissue sampling and blood tests were performed, disappointingly her sister was not compatible and therefore unsuccessful in donating her kidney.

Kim Wilesmith with her sister.

Kim Wilesmith with her sister.

Kim was presented with another opportunity in 2016 from her son. But—due to her antibodies being too high—Kim’s 26-year-old son was unable to donate his kidney, again proving futile.

Since finding out her sister and son were unsuccessful in being able to donate a kidney, Kim returned to regular dialysis treatments and has been for the past ten years, desperately hoping a new kidney comes her way soon.

“Raising awareness about organ and tissue donation and registration is so important to me and my family. If by talking to people and sharing my story it saves one person from being on the transplant list, then I feel that I have made a contribution” shares Kim.

“Living with a chronic disease is not always easy. The Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk helps promote the important message of the need for organ and tissue donors in Australia. By registering as organ and tissue donors, it is important that they know it will change the lives of people living with lifetime illnesses. Donating an organ is truly the greatest gift you can give, ever.”

There is still time to register for the walk, so be sure to invite family, friends, colleagues and bring along your fur babies to make it a great event.

Visit www.giftoflife.asn.au to register for the Walk.

For more information on organ and tissue donation in Australia or to register as an Organ Donor, visit www.donatelife.gov.au

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