Thanksgiving service for organ donors

Clementine Norton | 24th May 2010

EVERY time Colleen Fuller helps her son Jaydon get dressed or have a shower, she sees his scar and gives thanks to the anonymous donor who saved his life.

Jaydon, now a happy and active eight-year-old, was born with a serious liver disease and needed an organ transplant at just one year old.

The mark on his skin is a lasting reminder of the suffering of two families — the Fullers, and the family of the unknown person who died and allowed the young boy to have a chance at life.

“Each time you see that scar, it’s a reminder of what you have been through, and the suffering that the donor family went through,” Mrs Fuller said.

Each year, the Fuller family drives to Bundaberg from their Hervey Bay home for the annual thanksgiving service for organ donors and transplant recipients.

“We will never know who the donor family is, so it’s a chance to show all the donor families how much it means to us,” Mrs Fuller said.

“It’s a very emotional day because it brings back everything that we went through, and we are so appreciative.”

The heart-warming service at the Bundaberg Police Citizens Youth Club yesterday was organised by the Bundaberg Hospital Renal Unit and DonateLife Queensland.

The event was the idea of former Bundaberg Hospital patient Richard Tyler, who received a kidney and pancreas transplant 12 years ago.

“Every recipient says thanks each and every day for the opportunity to continue with their lives, but the service allows us to show in words and actions our thanks to the donor families,” Mr Tyler said.

“If it wasn’t for their decision to honour the wishes of the donor, then many more lives would be lost.”

A decision to attend a similar thanksgiving service in Brisbane was the inspiration he needed to begin an annual event in Bundaberg 11 years ago.

While Mr Tyler no longer lives locally he returns each year for the event.

Last year, 247 Australians donated organs, benefiting 799 transplant recipients.

People can put their name on the Australian Organ Donor Register by calling into their local Medicare office.

They should also discuss their wishes with family.