Sarah Twigger steering a boat and smiling.

The breath of life

Sarah Twigger, from the Bunbury Smart Centre, literally owes her life to a complete stranger. While she’ll never meet the generous person, every breath she takes is filled with gratitude.

In 2010, Sarah went to the doctor to investigate a cough that wouldn’t go away. After months of tests, medications and numerous hospital visits, doctors finally sat her down and told her she would need a double lung transplant.

As a fit, 29-year-old non-smoker—who had trekked to Mt Everest Base Camp a few years earlier—she was shocked.

“I couldn’t believe it was happening!” Sarah said.

“My condition got progressively worse and by 2013, both of my lungs had collapsed. My total lung capacity was below 30 per cent and I needed to be hooked up to oxygen all the time just to survive.”

After being placed on an organ transplant waiting list, Sarah was extremely fortunate to receive a transplant in just 13 days.

“I owe my life to a family’s decision to donate their loved one’s organs,” Sarah said.

“It’s bittersweet knowing I have someone else’s lungs inside me, but I’m so grateful for the second chance I’ve been given.

“I was lucky as there are people who wait years for a transplant and don’t make it. I often think about the donor’s family and hope they know how much I appreciate the wonderful gift they’ve given me.”

Registering on the Australian Organ Donation Register is important—9 out of 10 families agree to donation when the person is a registered organ donor. However, this drops to just 5 out of 10 when the person wasn’t registered and the family didn’t know their wishes.

“The more people that register and talk about it, the more lives can be saved,” Sarah said.

“Donors have an incredible impact on many lives, not just the life they’re saving.”

With more than 1400 Australians waiting for a life-saving transplant, Sarah encourages everyone to register their wishes with the Australian Organ Donation Register.

More information