Sarah receives the life-saving gift of a lung transplant

Two girls smiling at camera

It’s been two years since Sarah Twigger, who works for the Department of Human Services in Bunbury WA, received the very special gift of a life-saving organ transplant.

In 2010, after developing a nasty cough that wouldn’t disappear, Sarah decided to visit the doctor.

After months of tests, medication and hospital visits, doctors broke the news to her that she would need a double lung transplant to save her life.

“I remember thinking ‘this could not be happening!’ I was 29 years old, a non-smoker, and had trekked to Everest Base Camp a few years before, so I was pretty fit and healthy,” Sarah said.

“By 2013, both of my lungs collapsed and I was put on oxygen every night. My total lung capacity was below 30 per cent and I was struggling to do even just the smallest of things like cooking dinner and taking the rubbish out. I couldn’t even stand to finish a shower.

“Thanks to a family’s decision to donate their loved ones’ organs, I was fortunate to receive a transplant just 13 days after being placed on the waiting list,” Sarah said.

“I distinctly remember receiving that phone call. I had dinner on the stove when the clinical nurse rang to say they had a possible match and had already started testing on the donor.

A few hours later, she called back to say: “Sarah, we’re good to go!”

“I have no words to explain how I felt at that moment. I just looked at my partner with tears in my eyes and repeated ‘we’re good to go’.

“I was so lucky that the family said yes to donation, there are people waiting years and some never make it – I will be forever thankful to the family.

“It’s hard to think that someone will die before your life is saved, but mostly I think about her family and hope they know that she saved my life.

Seeing how the transplant saved Sarah’s life, her friend and colleague Danie Clarke, who works as an Indigenous Service Officer in WA, was inspired to give back in her own way.

Once she’s raised her target of $1000 for the Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation in WA, Danie will undergo “the big chop” – cutting off her very long hair that she has been growing since she was a young girl.

As well as donating the money to the Foundation, Danie will also donate her actual hair to have wigs made for people undergoing cancer treatment.

“I decided it was time to give something back,” Danie said. “I’ve been thinking for a while that I want to make a difference in other people’s lives.”

“I have my own struggles that I have to deal with every day – my youngest child has ADHD and Autism – but I wanted to make someone else’s life a little easier and better off.

“Sarah comes to work every day to service the Australian Public in such a sincere and outstanding way, despite everything she’s been through. “I’ve been so proud of her throughout this whole experience. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for her, and draw on the strength she shows every day.”

Sarah is encouraging people to discuss their organ donation wishes with their loved ones in the hopes that others can be as lucky as she was to receive the gift of an organ donation.

“You never know when life will change. Cherish it! And register to be an organ donor – I can’t explain how much of an impact you can make to someone else’s life. ”

More information:

To register your decision to donate organs, go to the Donate Life website.