MATT Bell was 12 when his body started to reject the kidney donated to him as a two-year-old.
The next five years would involve a cycle of exhaustion, uncertainty and, eventually, dialysis three times per week in Kings Meadows.
“The last five years became normal for me,” Matt said.
“I was up and down the entire time. My health was good one minute, and bad the next.
“I found I was exhausted 90 per cent of the time. That rare 10 per cent where I’d try to do something, I’d end up exhausting myself anyway.”
He was placed on the waiting list for a kidney in late-2018, but held out little hope of a quick turnaround.
Matt was having one of his regular afternoon naps when his girlfriend Chelsie raced in with good news – an eligible donor had been found.
“I thought she was pulling my leg for a minute,” he said.
Matt was on the waiting list for six weeks – a relatively short time, considering how precise a donated kidney needs to be to have the best chance of success. He was raced to Melbourne and underwent the procedure last month.
Going into Year 12 at Launceston College this year, Matt can now have the same hopes and dreams as other teenagers.
“I definitely want to get a job and get my licence, because I couldn’t on dialysis,” he said.
“It was just too time consuming and too energy-consuming as well.”
Matt was one of the 12,000 Australians undergoing dialysis while waiting for a suitable kidney.
Fewer than two per cent of people who die in hospital end up becoming organ donors.
The 2018 report on deceased organ donation and transplantation outcomes was released on Wednesday, showing that the number of Tasmanian organ donors increased from five in 2009, to 14 in 2018.
DonateLife executive officer Davin Hibberd said it was crucial that people discuss their organ donor status with their loved ones, because it was a difficult conversation to have at a critical time in hospital.
“When their loved one hasn’t been responding to life-saving treatment, they’re asked to consider end-of-life options, one of which could be donation,” he said.
“For a family that doesn’t know their loved-one’s wishes, sometimes that could be too overwhelming.
“It’s not uncommon for them to say no.
“In the US, Nine out of 10 families that know their loved one’s wishes will provide consent for their loved one to donate. That drops off to six out of 10 when they don’t know their loved one’s wishes.”
For more information, visit www.donatelife.gov.au