'This is a problem that's fixable': the fight to get more Australians to donate organs

THE GUARDIAN | Luke Buckmaster

Last year 159,000 Australians died, but less than 0.003% donated organs. A new film from the director of Frackman aims to ‘shame the audience into signing up’

 Reece and baby Levi, whose fight for a new kidney is featured in Richard Todd’s Dying to Live. Photograph: Sydney film festival
The evening of 2 December 2004 began as an ordinary school night for the Turner family of Shepparton, Victoria. Seven-year-old Zaidee, daughter of Kim and Allan, spent the night writing Christmas cards to her friends at school, before retiring to bed around 9pm. Not long after, she came running out of her bedroom, screaming about a pain inside her head.

After being rushed to hospital – first the nearby Goulburn Valley Health, then the Royal Children’s hospital in Melbourne – Zaidee died suddenly from a burst blood vessel in her brain, known as a cerebral aneurysm. That year she was the only child in Victoria under the age of 16 to donate her organs and tissues, an act that helped and even saved lives.

Zaidee donated her corneas to two four-year-old children, her kidneys to a middle-aged mother, her liver to an eight-year-old girl, her heart valve to a newborn baby, and parts of her heart to two infants. Her story is captured in the opening minutes of the powerful new documentary Dying to Live, which has its world premiere this week at the Sydney film festival. Continue reading