Emmeline Scholar, 7, Member for Mallee Anne Webster, and Shane Dickeson.

By JOHN DOOLEY

DONATE Life Week, which runs until Sunday, is a national awareness campaign dedicated to promoting organ and tissue donation.

The aim of Donate Life Week is to inspire all Australians to make a real difference to the lives of others by registering and telling their family they want to be a donor.

While the majority of Australians believe it’s important to be an organ and tissue donor, only one in three are registered.

Joining the Australian Organ Donor Register can change the lives of people who receive transplants and their families. 

For Member for Mallee, Anne Webster, Donate Life Week and the subject of organ donation, is something very close to her heart. 

When her grand daughter Emmeline Scholar 7, was born with an incurable liver disease, her only chance to live a normal life depended on having a liver transplant. 

Fortunately for Emmeline, at 15 months, a donor was found and a successful transplant took place.

This was the motivation for Dr Webster to established the Parliamentary Friends of Organ Donation with her colleague Mike Freelander, after she was elected to parliament.

“I am really proud of my daughter Bethany and her husband Nick, and of course enormously proud of Emmeline who has come through so much from birth,” Dr Webster said.

“Registering for organ donation is really important and it’s a very simple procedure. 
“Importantly, people need to communicate with their families, because if they don’t know that someone has made that decision, then there can be issues when that person passes away.”

Emmeline’s mother Bethany Scholar said her infant daughter was diagnosed at six weeks of age with Biliary atresia, a congenital liver defect.

“We had no advance warning, it was a normal pregnancy, a normal birth and everything was fine, and so getting that news was like a sledge-hammer to the chest,” she said.

“Suddenly the future that you had planned and envisaged for your child no longer exists.
“Watching your child get sicker and sicker, knowing that the outcome was either going to be that someone would save her lifer or she wouldn’t be with us anymore.

“Being completely aware that somebody else would be losing someone they loved, so that my child could live, was a really confronting thing to face.” 

Following the transplant, Emmeline had 12 operations over consecutive weeks, which has led to a good outcome. 

“We are nearly six years post transplant and she’s healthy, she’s happy, she’s at school and doing dance and loves life,” Bethany said.

Mildura resident, Shane Dickeson has suffered from cystic fibrosis all of his life, and knows only too well the vital importance of organ donation.

“In 2008 I received a double lung transplant, that was good for five years, and then due to rejection, I landed back on the transplant list,” he said.

“In 2013 I was lucky enough to receive another transplant, and seven years later, it’s all going well, and I can actually breathe and have a quality of life now.”

Shane was indeed fortunate, given that currently 1,700 Australians are wait listed for a transplant, with a further 12,000 on dialysis.

“One person can save up to 10 lives, and we have some of the best doctors and transplant services in the world, but unfortunately one of the lowest donor rates,” Shane said.

“So something needs to be done to increase those rates.”

Join the Australian Organ Donor Register today, it only takes a minute and all you need is your Medicare Card number. visit: www.donatelife.gov.au/register-donor-today.