For more than 40 years, Jude Simpson has been living life to the fullest thanks largely to not one, but two kidney donations.
In 1981, at the age of 29, she received a kidney transplant from a deceased donor. While it provided some relief, by 2001 she was experiencing chronic rejection.
After years of dialysis to help compensate for her failing donor organ, she was starting to lose hope.
But throughout her years of illness she had also developed a remarkable friendship with a woman named Caroline Gregg.
The pair met while travelling on the "hippy trail" in Queensland. Here, an unbreakable bond was forged - including somewhat of a twist of fate.
The month before Ms Simpson's first transplant, Caroline's daughter Pru Peterson was born.
Ms Simpson became something of a second mother to Pru, and as her health reached an all-time low, the then 24-year-old knew she had to do something to help.
In 2005 Pru became the second person to donate a kidney to Ms Simpson.
This time a living donor, at the time it was considered to be one of the first non-familial direct kidney donations for a Tasmanian - if not the first.
The remarkable story was featured in The Examiner, as the pair prepared to travel from Tasmania to Adelaide for the operation.
"If anyone in the immediate family comes into a life-threatening situation, then you would try to help," Pru said at the time.
"I'm not stupid, I know that life expectancy for someone on dialysis is seven to 10 years and Jude was slipping to the bottom of the list for a transplant because she is not married, is over 50 and has no family."
Fortunately the operation was a success, and more than 15 years later Ms Simpson remains a passionate advocate for organ donation.
"I have been really, really lucky," she said.
"I've had no rejection, which has been amazing. Pru's really healthy also, so it's worked out. But where would I be if she hadn't taken that chance?
"I just think it's amazing. She [Pru] was born one month before my first transplant and I'm alive today because of her. It's just been a remarkable friendship between us all."
In 2020, there was a 12 per cent decrease in the number of Australians who received an organ transplant, along with a 16 per cent decrease in donors and those registering as donors.
There are now about 1800 people on a waitlist for a transplant across Australia, and a further 12,000 on dialysis who could benefit from a kidney transplant like Jude.
Now, as part of DonateLife Week (July 25-August 1), Tasmanian DonateLife executive officer Davin Hibberd said there had never been a more urgent time for people to have a conversation with their family.
"Donation and transplantation experienced a very difficult year last year with COVID," he said.
"Rates of donation and transplantation actually dropped, whereas previously, we had been on a very steady and progressive increase for both donation and transplantation.
"So this year, we want to create a sense of urgency. We are calling our campaign the Great Registration Race.
"Our goal is to register 100,000 people nationally, just during the period of July through to August."
In Tasmania about 50 per cent of eligible donors are registered. However, only about 2 per cent of people who die in hospital are suitable for organ donation.
Mr Hibberd said the entire process was made a lot easier if families know their loved-ones decisions.
"In a clinical context, families who know their loved ones decisions that are being asked to register as a donor, are much more likely to provide final consent for donation to proceed. So it is important," he said.
"For so many people a transplant is lifesaving, and to hear stories of people who have had an extra five, 10 - in this case 40 years as a result - it's just incredible.
"It just reinforces to the community that donation is such an important thing to do."
- Register at donatelife.gov.au/register.
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