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Give the gift of life by registering to become an organ donor

Published:  28 July 2023

Maria Parenti knows the feeling of receiving a call that a donor has been found for a transplant she direly needed.

Maria was born with both kidneys damaged due to reflux nephropathy in-utero, which is a condition where the valve in the urinary tract doesn’t close properly and urine backflows to the kidneys causing scarring.

For Maria, this meant that one of her kidneys was the size of a walnut and didn’t function, but the other lasted until she was 56 years old with regular dialysis and strictly following the directions of her renal doctor in Townsville, Dr Peter de Jersey. 

Maria vividly remembers the night she was told she had a donor and telling her mum that she would get a new kidney.

“I got the call for the transplant at seven pm in early 2017 and I had to double check with my Cairns renal doctor that he had the right patient, and the kidney was really meant for me,” Maria said.

Receiving the kidney transplant gave Maria hope and a new lease on life.

“It gave me hope I would see my son grow up and now six years after the transplant, he has found the love of his life and seeing and talking with him always brings me great joy,” she said.

“The transplant also gave me the confidence to invest in myself again; at 61 I qualified as a personal trainer working in fitness while I teach part-time.”

DonateLife Week (23 - 30 July) is an annual push to increase the numbers of registered organ donors in Australia. 

Across the Townsville local government area, it’s estimated only 34 per cent of people over the age of 16 are registered to become organ donors.

Townsville University Hospital organ donation nurse coordinator Mark Singzon said more than 1,800 people had newly registered in Townsville during 2022.

"Anyone over the age of 16 can register to be an organ donor regardless of how old or whether they believe they are healthy enough,” he said.

“Only 2 per cent of people die in a way that makes it possible for their organs to be donated, which is why every single donor registration is important.

“Last year, 77 Queenslanders and their families gifted their organs, saving the lives of 204 Australians.

“It takes just a minute to register to become an organ donor and by doing so, you can give someone the gift of a longer life.”

Maria seconded this sentiment and said registering to be an organ donor was like giving gold to the recipients.

“Passing on the gift of life is like winning gold, because receiving that gift is gold for the recipient,” she said.

“I want everyone to know that organ transplant recipients are deeply grateful to have been gifted the opportunity to have extra time with their family and loved ones.

“Being a donor is not something everyone can do, but if you are able to be that person, please register or let your family know about your wishes to donate.” 

Register to become an organ donor here:

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