ROWELL Flores had “terror in his eyes” in the months leading up to a kidney donation that would save his brother’s life.
In unfamiliar surroundings, just 22 years of age and deathly afraid of scars, Rowell took a leap of faith in the name of his family.
For the first time, Wagga Rotary’s community services chairman Graeme Callander has revealed the inner struggle Rowell overcame for his brother, Rex, to help boost the Riverina’s organ donation rates.
Rex’s story of survival inspired Wagga and galvanised Rotary to champion the cause of organ donor awareness.
Rex, a migrant from the Philippines, suffered severe kidney failure and needed a transplant to survive. Rowell, who was back home in the Phillippines, agreed to make the ultimate sacrifice for his brother.
“He was the real hero in all of this,” Mr Callander said.
“Being the youngest of three, I guess you could say he lived in the shadows a little bit. They weren’t really that close.
“When he arrived he was very timid, very concerned about what was going to happen. But in the end it was a case of big brother, little brother.”
Mr Callander believed Rowell’s initial concern was that he was not in his home country.
“I think Rowell’s concerns about the transplant prior to leaving the Philippines stemmed from the fact that because the operation was not taking place in the Philippines, he knew nothing about the way it happened and had no one to ask,” he said.
Mr Callander recalls seeing the biggest smile he had ever seen after the operation was over.
There was a chance Rowell could have donated his kidney “for nothing” because his brother’s condition had deteriorated so rapidly.
“I’m sure it was relief,” Mr Callander said of Rowell’s big smile. “I think he was genuinely pleased to give his brother a second go at life.”
Register your decision to donate. Those aged 16 and over can join the Australian Organ Donor Register at a Medicare service centre or online at donatelife.gov.au. Tell your family you would like to be a donor. Consent is always sought from the next of kin before donation can go ahead.
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