Sunday, August 21, 2011

Australian liver recipient promotes organ donation

For Todd, life is looking rosy

''We are so grateful'' … Todd Bratfield with his wife, Sharon.

By Jim O'Rourke The Canberra Times

YELLOW is not Todd Bratfield's favorite color.

The father of two from Stockton, in Newcastle, was getting fed up with people telling him his eyes were a ''bloodshot yellow'' and that his skin was the color of a pale banana.

Over 20 years, the former dairy farmer's coloring slowly changed because his liver was deteriorating because of a disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis. Nine months ago, he was told the organ was on the verge of total failure and he needed a transplant to save his life.

In February The Sun-Herald reported that Mr Bratfield was one of the four faces of Transplant Australia's Journey of Hope campaign aimed at encouraging people to discuss organ donation and to register as donors. The campaign, supported by The Sun-Herald, also wanted to attract more funding to support organ recipients and their families.

Mr Bratfield received that new liver at Sydney's Royal Price Alfred Hospital this month. The 44-year-old was one of about 170 people waiting for a liver transplant to help save their lives. There are about 1700 other Australians needing transplanted organs and tissue.

''Even the day after the operation that yellow jaundice colour was disappearing,'' Mr Bratfield said. ''That bloodshot yellow in my eyes was gone and I don't look as old or tired as I did. I'm just thinking about getting myself up and going and looking forward to being able to do things like camping with my kids again.

''We are so grateful to the donor's family, who have given me another chance and grateful to the liver transplant unit at RPA.''

On Wednesday, Transplant Australia and campaign media partner 2GB, as well as 2CH, are staging a radio appeal for donations from the public and corporate Australia. To donate on Wednesday call 1800 827 757.

Transplant Australia's CEO, Chris Thomas, said 2GB presenters Alan Jones, Ray Hadley, Chris Smith and Ben Fordham would interview recipients, donor families and medical staff to highlight the difficulties faced by families as they wait for transplants.

''The life of someone waiting for a life-saving transplant is very challenging,'' Mr Thomas said. ''Not only do they have to deal with uncertainty, their families are often dislocated as they move interstate to be next to a transplant unit while they wait … Lives are put on hold.''

Another Journey of Hope participant, Patricia Scheetz, 28, visited Mr Bratfield and his wife, Sharon, at RPA to congratulate them a few days after the operation. Ms Scheetz, who has diabetes, was given a new kidney and pancreas in June after spending nine months on the waiting list.

''She looked really, really good,'' Mrs Bratfield said.

The campaign's two other faces - Geoff Bromley, 41, and 16-year-old Tianna Buller-Rushworth- are waiting for heart transplants.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – Sign-up today!
to become an organ and tissue donor
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
United States,
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

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