Meet little Gold Coaster Davina. A healthy, happy, bouncy, baby girl, who did all the things a normal healthy, happy bouncy, baby girl does - until she got a cold.
What was initially diagnosed as bronchitis went on for five long months and then, without warning, things took a terrifying turn. She spent two weeks in a coma and five weeks in ICU. The doctors knew her little heart wasn't coping.
And, slowly, her family and a team of doctors embarked of an extraordinary journey that would lead to this 8 month old baby needing and receiving a heart transplant.
And today, Davina is getting ready for her first day at day care.
Her story, like many others, are tales of survivors who received a selfless gift of life from a hero in the community they'd never met. These stories are among the many faces of DonateLife Week this week.
Around 1,400 Australians are currently waitlisted for a transplant with 11,000 on kidney dialysis.
Although organ donar numbers have doubled in recent years, there's still so much more that can be done.
Although three out of four Australians say they’d be willing to become organ and tissue donors, only about one in four are registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register. If it weren’t for the donation conversation had by generous strangers, Kane, Kaedyn and Kye wouldn’t be here today.
At the age of 15, Kane Williams suffered from chronic heart failure leading to a heart transplant.
Now a dad to Kaedyn and Kye, he had them tested to ensure the condition wasn't hereditary. It turned out it was. Kaedyn and Kye's hearts were twice their expected size. This heart mutation eventually led to severe heart failure; their fight for life was unbearable.
After a waiting game and marathon-long heart transplant surgeries, they both came out the other side.
The boys, now teenagers, celebrate the anniversaries every year of their transplants and the lives of the donors who saved their own.
“We respect their heart-wrenching decision and the emotional ride they have endured. Words will never be enough to express our gratitude. But we promise them all in prayer that we will look after their loved ones hearts the best we can.”
- Kirsty Williams, Mum of Kye and Kaedyn
A testament that rings true for Cherie Thompson when, in 2010, a bad flu lasted months on end.
Cherie had an untreatable condition called bird fanciers disease caused by the exposure of proteins in the droppings and feathers of some birds.
She was rushed to emergency for an open lung biopsy but the results were inconclusive.
In and out of hospital for more than 2 years, her life was deteriorating every day.
"They called me the boomerang. I was sleeping for up to 3 days at a time before I could call an ambulance."
- Cherie Thomson, double lung recipient
"During my stay there I was also told that the only chance I had of survival was a lung transplant. But as things were at the time, I was too unhealthy to be considered for listing. I was put on oxygen 24/7 and told I had to lose weight. I needed to be at maximum 80kg. I cried knowing that I couldn’t even dress myself and prepare a meal, so how was I going to lose this weight."
- Thomson says.
After two agonising years, Cherie did lose that weight, and eventually got the long-awaited call they'd found a perface match of donor lungs for her.
"All day I had mixed emotions, happy I was going to be saved, sad like I have never felt before, for someone had to die for this to happen."
- Thomson explains.
Since then, she's travelled to Thailand, started a diploma of community services and become a Community Champion for DonateLife.
"Without my donor and their family I would not be here and I owe them everything."
- Cherie Thomson, double lung recipient
Last year, 1,675 lives were transformed by 510 deceased and 273 living organ donors and their families.
29 July to 5 August is DonateLife week. A chance to reflect on those past donors and the lives they have selflessly saved and a chance to start the conversation and consider your options for becoming an organ donor.
Because the end of your life could save another.
For more information, or to register in around a minute, visit the DonateLife website here.