SIX years after her brother’s death helped save the lives of seven people through organ donation, Ulladulla’s Rachael Martin is urging locals to talk about donation.
Rachael’s brother Ashley Cooper died tragically in an accident in February 2008, but through his family’s decision to donate his organs, his death meant life for others.
Rachael is urging local families to talk about organ and tissue donation with their loved ones during the upcoming DonateLife Week, starting Sunday, February 23 and running through until Sunday, March 2.
Since losing V8 Supercar driver Ashley, Rachael and her family have become dedicated advocates for organ and tissue donation within Australia.
“Ashley was a compassionate, generous and charitable man so the fact that he was able to donate his organs and save the lives of fellow Aussies is a testimony to his wonderful character,” Rachael said.
“We are so proud of Ashley, we always have been.
“He touched the lives of so many when he was alive and his story, his gift and his memory continue to transform lives now.
“We share the story of Ashley’s life and his gift of donation whenever we can.”
Rachael said she and her family hoped Ashley would leave a lasting legacy through his story and inspire others to donate their organ and tissues.
“It was a tribute to a wonderful man, our hero, our Ashley."Rachael Martin on organ donation
“We urge all Australians to discover the facts about organ and tissue donation, register their donation decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register, but most importantly, share their decision with those closest to them,” Rachael said.
“We as a family had already had the chat about organ and tissue donation quite some time before Ashley’s accident.
“Knowing his wishes meant that at the most shattering and overwhelming time of our lives we were able to make the decision about donation without hesitation and with honour.
“It was a tribute to a wonderful man, our hero, our Ashley.
“It was acknowledgement of his benevolent nature and a wonderful gift that has saved and touched a countless number of Australian lives.”
In Australia, the family will always be asked to confirm the donation decision of their loved one before donation for transplantation can proceed.
Families that have discussed and know each other’s donation decisions are much more likely to support donation proceeding.
This Sunday not only marks the start of DonateLife week, it is a special celebration for the family.
“This Sunday our family will celebrate the lives of two very special people,” Rachael said.
“It’s the start of Donate Life week across Australia – an event and cause that we are incredibly supportive of, it’s the anniversary of my beautiful brother’s accident that took his life and it’s the celebration of my adorable little boy, Ashton’s first birthday.
“It’s pretty remarkable that Ashton came in to the world on the anniversary of Ashley’s accident and also during DonateLife week.
“He was named in honour of his heroic uncle that he never got to meet.
“Our lives won’t ever be complete without Ashley in them but the fact his gift has given others a second chance at life, an opportunity to enjoy many more birthdays is such a blessing to our family and a wonderful acknowledgement to the compassionate man Ashley was.”
Inspired by her own loss and the impact Ashley’s life and death had on others, Rachael became an advocate for organ and tissue donation and was elected a member of the advisory council to the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority.
“After we lost Ashley we were devastated to find out that so many fellow Aussies were losing their lives waiting for transplants and we decided as a family that we would do everything we could to change that,” Rachael said.
She hopes the town that has supported her family so much over the years will also support DonateLife week.
“We already know just how supportive, giving and caring the Milton Ulladulla community can be,” Rachael said.
“We have experienced that first hand since losing Ashley.
“My parents, siblings, family and I are eternally grateful for the support of this loving community.
“I know that this town is bursting with good people who naturally think of others and having the chat about organ and tissue donation is one more way that local families can help fellow Australians and impact the lives of many.”
MUD Pride and Ulladulla Milton Lions Club are urging families to have the chat that saves lives during DonateLife Week 2014.
To help encourage more Australians to discuss organ and tissue donation, MUD Pride and the Ulladulla Milton Lions Club will be pairing with Bunnings Ulladulla to run a barbecue and ‘have the chat’ opportunity at Bunnings Ulladulla on March 2.
They will be among many Lions Clubs and stores across Australia taking this initiative over the same weekend.
“Less than one per cent of hospital deaths occur in the specific circumstances where organ donation is possible, although many more people can become tissue donors,” said Rachael Martin, president of MUD Pride and a coordinator of the event.
“To optimise every potential organ and tissue donor, we each need to have the chat with our family members so that we know each other’s donation decision.
“Having the chat can make a life-saving difference to people waiting for a transplant.
“It can be the difference between seeing and being blind; mobility and never walking again,” Rachael said.
“In the same way that we discuss what we want to have happen in the event of our death, we also need to talk about whether we would like to become an organ and tissue donor.
“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.
“With one organ and tissue donor able to transform the lives of 10 or more people, it’s a conversation that could one day save lives,” said Rachael said.
To find out more about organ donation, head to Bunnings on Sunday, March 2, and talk to the MUD Pride and Lions members manning the barbecue.