BLIND Wagga musician Patrick Geaghan is used to applause from a crowd.
What he never expected in his wildest dreams was a phone call telling him he was eligible for a kidney transplant in under two years.
It was the kind of validation he was reluctant to accept.
“It was quite surreal,” Mr Geaghan said.
“I thought I was never going to get one, and didn’t even think I was suitable, so when they offered it to me there was just a lot of questions.
“All I could think was ‘why am I taking this phone call? Why am I on this plane to Sydney?’. I knew full well why there was reasons why it was offered to you, but surely some 20-year-old would have been more suitable than me.”
Mr Geaghan was diagnosed as a diabetic about 25 years ago. About 10 years ago his diabetes “ran rampant” and claimed his eyesight, pancreas and kidneys.
The prognosis was looking particularly bleak while he was on dialysis.
“Then just out of the blue I got that call,” he said. “The kidney that was available was an 89 per cent match, so better than what I would have gotten with a family member.
“I really lucked out.”
Since his new lease on life, Mr Geaghan has thought long about making Wagga the “organ donation capital” of Australia.
And his story comes as Wagga Rotary raises awareness about Australia’s low rates of organ donation.
The national body charged with boosting donor rates, Donate Life, has made some progress since its inception in 2009.
However, those on the transplant list still confront the reality that many family members halt the donation wishes of their loved ones. Donors are no longer able to register their organs using their driver’s licence.
One of the most hotly contested ways to boost organ donation rates is through an opt-out system, where every Australian is already on the register unless stating otherwise.
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said he supported Australia moving to an opt-out system. Mr McCormack said people could easily remove their name for religious beliefs, and that being on the register didn’t mean doctors would provide less care.
“Don’t take your organs to heaven because heaven knows we need them here,” he said.
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