"Organ donation saved my life"

FOR Griffith woman Janelle Bennato, organ donation truly is the gift of life.

In January this year the 47-year-old received a new kidney and pancreas thanks to the generosity of a donor.

During DonateLife Week Mrs Bennato is urging everyone to 'have the chat' with loved ones to make sure their donation decision is known.

After nearly two years on a waiting list, on January 7 Mrs Bennato finally got the call she had been waiting for and flew to Westmead Hospital in Sydney.

"They told me they had a donor with a perfect tissue match," she said.

"It has given me a life. Before my transplant I was sitting on a machine six hours a day every second day and was only allowed to drink one litre of fluid a day. Griffith's weather is so hot so it made it really difficult.

"I have an inherited kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and I had diabetes for 25 years. The last three years I was unable to feel when I was having a hypo, which meant I'd blackout and that got really dangerous. I'd have to do blood sugars about 30 times a day. "

Mrs Bennato, who is in still Sydney fine tuning her medication, should be home this week.

"I'd encourage anyone who wants to give the gift of life to let their family know," she said.

"It's a family decision so you need to tell your family and register at a Medicare office or online."

Mrs Bennato said those on the transplant list know they may die waiting for an organ but are aware that a donor family will be asked to look beyond their pain and allow the organs to be given to a stranger.

"The biggest thing that stuck with me is that in Australia, you're a lot more likely to need an organ than you are to donate one," she said.

"I have written to my donor family but haven't sent the card yet because thank you never seems like enough when they have died to save my life".

From Sunday, February 23 to Sunday, March 2, locals are being urged to register their donation decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) Donor Specialist Nurse Sarah Woolley said it was important that people discuss what they want to have happen in the event of their death.

"We also need to talk about whether we would like to become an organ and tissue donor," she said.

"It's a conversation we can have today, that helps prepare our loved ones should they be offered the opportunity to proceed with organ and tissue donation."

For more information visit www.donatelife.gov.au

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