Volunteers pound the pavement to save lives

Hundreds more Australians are likely to sign up as organ donors thanks to the determination of volunteers from the Department of Human Services and Gift of Life.

Members of both organisations pounded the pavement on 28 February for the annual Gift of Life DonateLife Walk, where they answered queries and encouraged as many people as possible to sign up to the Australian Organ Donor Register.

Staff members also joined department Secretary Renée Leon and Gift of Life President David O’Leary to participate in the scenic walk around Lake Burley Griffin.

Mr O’Leary said he personally appreciated the opportunity to inspire people to save others as he was an organ donation recipient himself.

“It was really a miracle they were able to find a donor for me, but luckily they did otherwise we wouldn’t be talking now, some 27-odd years later,” Mr O’Leary said.

The department’s Secretary Renee Leon (centre) with department staff and volunteers at the Gift of Life DonateLife Walk.

“Any one donor can potentially give up to eight organs, and on average, it tends to be three, so there’s a real prospect of diminishing the waiting list and making it possible for many more Australian lives to be saved each year.”

The department’s Secretary Renee Leon (centre) with department staff and volunteers at the Gift of Life DonateLife Walk

The Secretary was proud to see so many of her department’s staff sharing the message with the community.

“Our department is dedicated to improving the lives of all Australians, so it’s great to see the energy and enthusiasm of our team members extend into their off-work hours,” Ms Leon said.

“We know around 1400 people are on the Australian organ transplant waiting lists at any one time, and I believe we should be doing everything we can to promote ways to save and improve those people’s lives.

“I’m honoured to have played a role in this year’s walk, and I hope others felt encouraged and supported to have the conversation with their loved ones and register to become an organ donor, as I have.”

Department volunteer Hannah Weir was excited to lend a hand, despite the early start.

“Anything we can do to help raise awareness of organ donation is really important, so I’m glad I can do my part to support a good cause,” she said.

“I signed up myself about six months ago and didn’t realise how easy it was to register using the Medicare Express Plus mobile app – it takes about five minutes and you could potentially save many lives.”

Staff member Joan Berrigan also braved the foggy morning to walk in honour of her brother and encourage people along the way to register.

Walkers braving the foggy morning in Canberra

“I’m here because my brother passed away waiting for a liver transplant,” she said.

“It’s good to make people aware that the choice is there.”

In 2017 organ donation saved and transformed the lives of 1,402 Australians but 1,431 people were still awaiting life-saving transplants as at 1 December last year.

Australians can register as an organ donor using their Medicare online account through myGov. Sign into myGov and select ‘Services’ then ‘Medicare’. People can also register using the Medicare Express Plus mobile app or the Australian Organ Donor Register registration online form.

For more information about the walk and registration, visit the DonateLife Walk website.

More information

  • Find out more about Gift of Life here.
  • Read about the Australian Organ Donor Register here.
  • Contact the Organ Donor Registry on 1800 777 203.

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