‘Virtually walk’ for life saving organ transplants

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Lung recipient Ash Morgan, given a second chance at life.

FOR Canberra local Ash Morgan, the Gift of Life’s DonateLife walk appeal couldn’t be more special.

At age 56, Ash was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease, a degenerative disease which has no cure. He was told not long after that he was going to need a transplant to survive.

“It was surreal, you really don’t expect these things to happen,” said Ash.

“I had a routine check-up one day and the doctor referred me to a lung specialist because something wasn’t right.”

The disease took about 18 months before it seriously set in, during which Ash stayed strong for his family. Eventually, he says he started to go downhill fast.

“I remember a week before the operation I thought: ‘My God, I can’t breathe’,” he said.

Thanks to the charity Gift of Life and an organ donor he’ll be forever grateful to, Ash was able to undergo a bi-lateral lung transplant late last year that saved his life. He’s been recovering in Sydney since, and getting stronger by the day.

“This week I walked over 10,000 steps. Eight weeks ago, I couldn’t even walk 10 steps,” he said.

Running for 15 years, the DonateLife walk normally sees thousands of Canberrans walk around Lake Burley Griffin to raise awareness and money for Australians who need lifesaving organ transplants.

Despite having to adhere to covid restrictions, this year will still see the appeal go full steam ahead with a “virtual walk”.

Canberrans are encouraged to sign-up through the Gift of Life website and walk up to five kilometres anywhere, anytime between February 22-28. Participants are then asked to take some pictures or video of their walk and post them on social media to raise awareness.

President of Gift of Life Catherine Scott is excited to launch the event this year.

“For 15 years the community of Canberra and the surrounding region have supported Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk. I hope people continue to support the cause this year, by gathering their friends and doing their own walk during the last week of February – we want everyone to get involved,” said Catherine.

Across Australia there are more than 1700 people that are on a transplant waitlist, and 12,000 are on dialysis waiting for a liver transplant.

Ash’s story is just one of many made possible by the work that Gift of Life do.

He’s looking forward to returning home to Canberra at the end of February. Although he’ll still be in Sydney when the DonateLife walk is on, he’s excited to be participating none the less.

He cannot highlight enough how important to him Gift of Life and the DonateLife walk appeal is.

“The fact is that the more people know about us, the more lives will be saved. That’s why it’s so important we raise awareness,” he said.

“I will forever be grateful to my donor and to Gift of Life, without them I wouldn’t have the opportunity to have this second go.”

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