Family tragedy leads to life, hope from organ donation

GIVING LIFE: Carmel Cheers with her donor husband, Graham.
GIVING LIFE: Carmel Cheers with her donor husband, Graham.

Somewhere in Australia there are people saying a prayer of thanks to Carmel Cheers and her late husband, Graham.

Graham was 60 when he died six years ago from a massive stroke but, as he and Carmel were both registered with Medicare as organ donors, she didn't hesitate in giving permission to the hospital doctors to remove his liver, both kidneys and take tissue samples.

Carmel (59) of Sippy Downs is a Workplace, Health and Safety advisor and she described for Seniors how she was giving a training course in Brisbane when she got word to call Nambour Hospital, the intensive care surgeon wanted to speak to her.

"When I met the doctor at the hospital, there was another lady in the room and I sensed that she was more there for me than anything else. So I knew before anyone said anything, this is not going to be good.

"I asked the usual, 'are there any operations, treatments, medications' and was told they could, of course, try but they believed the damage from the stroke had gone too far.

"I said, 'Are you going to ask for his organs?' Both looked a bit surprised and I guess relieved that I had raised the subject.

Carmel said Graham was a quiet man and he believed organ donation was the right thing to do. "He would have felt he had done a lot in his life but this was the best thing he would ever do."

Graham's organs went to several recipients but Carmel doesn't know who they are. About a year after Graham died, she received a note from DonateLife Qld saying the recipients had sent cards of thanks and would she want to see them but she declined.

"I didn't feel they should have to send me anything. All I wanted to know was they were still going strong."

She regards highly the support from hospital and DonateLife. "There was a whole team of people available for me and they were there for me as much or as little as I wanted."

One year after Graham's death she went to the annual service of remembrance DonateLife organises for donor families and transplant recipients. She took home an azalea and planted it in her garden to remember Graham.

"Since then I have attended all the services and I have an azalea to mark each one. Now, at weekends I can sit in my Graham garden and think of happier times."

Topics:  brisbane organ donation seniors seniors news sunshine coast

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