Seven years ago Limestone Fire Brigade volunteer Paul Bannan donated a kidney to a stranger.
A volunteer firefighter for 30 years, the urge to help others is part of Paul’s DNA. So, when a close friend was placed on the waitlist for a kidney transplant, Paul didn’t hesitate to offer one of his own.
At the last moment his friend received a kidney via a deceased donor leaving Paul free to continue his life as usual. However during the work-up process to become a donor Paul had witnessed the plight of many people in need of a kidney transplant which had a profound impact on him.
“I’d be in waiting rooms with people who were doing everything to improve and prolong their health,” Paul said.
“They were doing their tests to see how badly their kidneys were deteriorating. People from various age groups, including young children and older people. I could see it was impacting young families, all the way to grandparents.”
Having been involved in service to the community from an early age, Paul’s mantra is, ‘Assist where you can, with what you can, whenever you can.’
In the ultimate act of generosity, he decided to become a living donor to help someone he had never met.
As part of the Australian Paired Kidney Exchange, Paul’s altruistic gift formed part of the country’s largest ever paired kidney exchange at that time, involving six hospitals across two states, and resulting in seven kidney transplants, transforming seven lives.
Today, Paul’s message is that we can all do something that might one day save a life. He is encouraging Victorians to register as an organ and tissue donors.
“It takes less than a minute to register to become and organ and tissue donor. If your organs could save the life of someone after you have died, why wouldn’t you do that?”
DonateLife Week is the Australian Government’s key public awareness initiative to encourage people to register as organ and tissue donors and to tell their loved ones once they’ve signed up.
Victorian Emergency Services are supporting DonateLife Week - Sunday 24 July to Sunday 31 July - to encourage more Victorians to register.
Four in five Australians support donation, yet there are about 13 million Australians aged 16+ who are eligible to register as an organ and tissue donor – but haven’t.
This year during DonateLife Week organisers are hoping to encourage 100,000 more Australians to register as organ and tissue donors. If one person registers every minute during July and August, the goal will be reached.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, your medical history, your lifestyle, what country you’re from or how healthy you are – you can still register as an organ and tissue donor. Even if you’ve had COVID you can register.
For around 1,750 Australians currently on the organ transplant waitlist, it’s a matter of life and death. There are an additional 12,000 people on dialysis who may benefit from a kidney transplant. For others, an eye or other tissue transplant is a path to a greatly improved quality of life.
It only takes one minute to sign up at donatelife.gov.au or just three taps in your Medicare app.