PlusLife has encouraged West Australians who have received life-changing bone and tissue donations to pay tribute to their donors by writing a letter of thanks today on DonateLife Thank You Day.
The national awareness day acknowledges the selfless contributions of tissue and organ donors, and the important role families play in transforming lives through the donation cause.
The personal journeys of a mother whose 12-year-old son became a donor, a heart transplant recipient and transplant doctor will be shared at the DonateLife Thank You Day Service of Remembrance in City Beach today.
PlusLife managing director Anne Cowie said the decisions of living donors and families of deceased donors were life-changing for many bone and tissue recipients – with some recipients keen to share their remarkable recoveries with donors and families.
“Over the years, PlusLife has been the conduit to providing dozens of extremely touching and heartfelt letters from tissue recipients to donors and donor families,” Mrs Cowie said.
“These letters of thanks often provide great comfort to families, particularly in cases where donations have been made after an unexpected death.
“Similarly, bone and tissue recipients can choose to write to their donor or donor family to share how their transplant may have benefited their lives.
“This includes life-changing spinal surgery that enables recipients to walk without pain, cancer patients who with a bone allograft can save a limb; and other inspiring stories like one young Perth girl who was able to resume her passion for dancing thanks to donor graft.”
Since opening as the Perth Bone and Tissue Bank 26 years ago, Plus Life has provided more than 19,000 grafts to more than 10,000 patients, many of whom are children with bone cancer and spinal deformities.
PlusLife, which manages bone and tissue donations in WA, has two donor programs. Living patients having hip replacement surgery can donate the ball part of their hip, which is used commonly in a ground-up form for children with spinal deformities. And, like organ donation, bone, tendons and ligaments can be donated after death with consent from next-of-kin.
Grafts are used for patients undergoing life-changing operations, such as complex joint surgery and treatments for patients with dental and facial bone loss. In many cases it has saved children with cancer the distress of a limb amputation.
Mrs Cowie said PlusLife had helped improve thousands of lives through generous donations of Australian tissue.
She said people did not realise the full impact of tissue donation, with one deceased tissue donor able to improve the wellbeing, sight and mobility of up to 60 people.
“Families play a vital role in the donation process. DonateLife Thank You Day is about honoring the very people who help make these important donations happen and to give thanks to the donors themselves,” she said.
“From our experience, donor families respond very well to receiving correspondence from patients and many see the donation as being a positive outcome from what was a tragic circumstance. A small thank you goes a long way.”
The DonateLife Thank You Day Service of Remembrance will take place today on the City Beach foreshore, Challenger Parade, City Beach from 11am to 12 noon.
To register as a bone, tissue or organ donor, visit www.donorregister.gov.au or via Medicare online.