Two years ago, Department of Human Services Social Worker Veronica made national headlines for being part of the largest paired kidney exchange in Australian medical history.
Since receiving her kidney transplant, Veronica says it’s the simple things in life she’s most thankful for.
“Before I got the transplant, I couldn’t go grocery shopping without having to take regular breaks,” she said. “I’d be in agony.
“Now, I can get through a whole shop without having to sit down. It’s the day-to-day things that have really changed for the better, and I’m especially thankful for this.”
Yesterday was DonateLife Thank You Day – a day to honour and thank all organ and tissue donors and their families across the country.
Before receiving her transplant, Veronica was unwell with anaemia, chronic fatigue and body aches.
“My kidneys were functioning at just eight per cent,” she said.
“I had planned to start dialysis, but then my sister offered to donate one of her kidneys.”
Unfortunately, the test revealed that her sister wasn’t the best match, so doctors suggested they join the Australian Paired Kidney Exchange Program (AKX program).
When a potential donor and recipient aren’t a compatible match to allow organ donation to happen, the AKX program uses a computer program to identify other possible matches.
When Veronica received the call to say a match had been found, she was blown away.
“I couldn’t believe that a complete stranger was a more compatible match than my own sister!” Veronica said.
“I kept asking – ‘are you sure?'”
As a result of the operation, Veronica’s kidney function is now greatly improved.
Veronica has been sharing her story as a way of raising awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation.
“I give talks at pre-transplant seminars,” Veronica said.
“I also raise awareness in other ways – in September last year, I was one of over 4,000 people who participated in the Big Red Kidney Walk.
“We raised over $200,000 to help other Australians who experience kidney disease.”