13 May 2020

Canberrans urged to step up and donate life

| Michael Weaver

Liver recipient Julianne Christie (centre) and her son Jackson, with Mallie Taylor. Photo: Monica Lindemann, Big Bang Social.

Mallie Taylor of Mattalie Photography loves to document the stories of Canberrans who have been organ and tissue recipients.

Mallie has a personal connection with organ donation. Her husband Matt died while waiting for a lung transplant, and she has now dedicated herself to raising awareness in the local community.

“When my husband was unable to have a lung transplant, all the hopes and dreams we had for our future were shattered,” said Mallie.

“The more research we did, the more we realised the need to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation. It was too late to save Matt, but we hoped that by raising awareness, we could hopefully prevent another family from going through the devastation of what we were living.”

Mallie is also a board member with the Gift of Life organisation, the peak body for organ donor awareness in the ACT region.

In launching Gift of Life’s annual DonateLife Walk to raise awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation, Mallie is providing families with photography sessions to help share their organ and tissue donation stories.

The first participants in the photography sessions are Julianne Christie and her son Jackson.

Julianne has a rare autoimmune disease that means that her body is destroying her liver. Diagnosed in her early 30s, when her son was just a toddler, Julianne was advised that her only chance for survival was to have a liver transplant.

“I was a regular blood donor and registered on the Australian Organ Donor Registry, but like so many people, I had never thought that I would need to be a recipient,” said Julianne.

Julianne had a successful liver transplant in 2006, but 10 years later her symptoms returned, and she was back on the waiting list for a second liver in 2016. Her son was in year 12 and her hope was to see him graduate.

Julianne Christie remains well after her second liver transplant in 2018. Photo: Mallie Taylor, Mattalie Photography

Julianne had a second liver transplant operation in 2018 and remains well.

“I don’t know why I’ve been so lucky to have been saved twice, but I try to pay it forward,” she said.

“I wish more people would have conversations about organ donation because you just don’t know what can happen.”

President of Gift of Life and liver recipient, David O’Leary, is excited to announce the launch of the 2020 DonateLife Walk campaign.

“As a community, we have a great history of coming together to support worthy causes,” David said.

“Next year is the 14th year we have held the walk and we want it to be bigger than ever. Last year, there were more than 5000 participants. Schools, community groups, government agencies, business, sports teams, families – we want everyone to get involved.

“There is still much more we can do to increase awareness and increase donor numbers. The more people that we can have out walking to raise awareness and signing onto the Australian Organ Donor Register, the better our outcomes will be,” he said.

Online event entry is now open for the 2020 walk, to be held on Wednesday, 26 February. The walk starts and finishes at Rond Terrace at the southern end of ANZAC Parade beside Lake Burley Griffin.

The walk is sponsored by the Organ and Tissue Authority and supported by the ACT Government.

For more information on organ and tissue donation in Australia, or to register to become an organ donor visit www.donatelife.gov.au.

Original Article published by Michael Weaver on The RiotACT.

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