Max - Donate Life week 2015
05 August 2015
News Category: 
Patient and health stories

One average day and Max’s life had changed.

...tell people how you feel about it, there are no need to put organs in the dirt when we need them here. Give 5 - 10 people a chance at life.

Max describes himself as a cheery fella, and accepted his diagnosis of kidney failure with a ‘better make the best of it’ attitude. But, if he had known that around 56 people die every day from a kidney related disease, he may have felt differently.

For Max, the first symptoms appeared in 2000 when he had some ‘trouble with his water works’, but overall felt well. However, in 2008 Max got up to go to work and felt crook. It was ‘like a really bad flu’ but he got sicker and sicker until one day he was sent via ambulance to Ballarat Hospital where a Nephrologist gave him the news that changed his life. He had End Stage Renal Failure (ESRF).

ESRF and haemodialysis meant Max had many restrictions placed upon his independent lifestyle, including three sessions of haemodialysis per week, each lasting four hours. On top of this he was only allowed to have 500mls of fluid per day, which Max says ‘500mls isn’t much when you have to take tablets, eat and drink.’ To fight back, Max undertook drastic changes to his diet and lifestyle and allowed nothing to effect his optimistic outlook. Max’s family and friends were essential to his time on haemodialysis providing him with encouragement and support.

Then, after three years on dialysis, Max received a very important phone call.

“Get to the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) as soon as possible, but drive safely, we don’t want you to have an accident”, Max was told by his nephrologist. After a three year wait, Max had finally gotten the phone call that he believed would come. He had been tissue matched to an organ donor for kidney transplant. Max arrived at RMH at 4am and by lunchtime, on the same day, his operation was finished and he was back on the ward. He cannot speak highly enough of the care he received from nursing and medical staff during his admission. The transplant and recovery process was explained to him in language that he understood.

Three years later and Max still wakes up every morning and gives thanks to the kidney donor and their family. They have given him a second chance at life and the emotion is still raw when trying to put his feelings into words.

Max realises that a ‘Thank You’, seems small in comparison to the heartache and grief that the donor’s family have experienced. So, he endeavours to be as healthy as he can and take care of the gift he has received. He goes to the gym, rides his bike and has just completed a 48km walk for the Autism Foundation.

Max’s take home message about donation is to “...tell people how you feel about it, there are no need to put organs in the dirt when we need them here. Give 5-10 people a chance at life”.

As of April 2015 1,142 people were waiting for a kidney transplant in Australia.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital is supporting DonateLife Week, Australia’s national awareness week to promote organ and tissue donation.

From Sunday 2 August to Sunday 9 August 2015, Australians are being urged to discover the facts about organ and tissue donation and to make and register their donation decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register. Most importantly, we are asking everyone to ‘have the chat’ with loved ones to make sure their donation decision is known.

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