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Zaidee's challenge at Mentone Grammar School

What is organ and tissue donation?

Organ and tissue donation is when a person has made their wishes known, or their family, agrees to the removal of one or more of their organs or tissues, so that the organs or tissues can be transplanted into someone else to either save or improve their quality of life.

Most organs are donated by people who die while on a ventilator in an Intensive Care Unit, generally as a result of a major accident, a brain haemorrhage or stroke. Today very few people die in these circumstances and the number is falling because of welcomed improvements in road safety and advances in medical treatment.

A person can donate a number of different organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and pancreas. They can also donate certain body tissues, such as corneas, skin, heart valves and bone.

Tissue donation may occur when someone has died without being in hospital as tissues can be donated up to 24 hours after death. Many more people are suitable for tissue donation than organ donation.

While most donations occur after a person has died, it is also possible to donate some organs while you are still alive. For example, a relative or friend can donate one of their kidneys to another relative or friend. This is called living-related donation.

Thanks to developments in medical technology, organ transplantation has become one of the most miraculous medical breakthroughs of recent times. Unfortunately, there are not enough organs available to help everyone in need. Australia has a world class reputation for successful transplant outcomes, yet it also has one of the lowest donation rates in the developed world.

Zaidee Turner was the only child in Victoria under the age of 16 years, and one of the youngest Australians, to donate her organs and tissues in 2004. She was only 1 of 6 children nationally to donate their organs. Upon her death and gift of life to others, Zaidee’s parents founded Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation to raise awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation.

When Zaidee donated back in 2004, 130,000 Australians died. Only 218 were Organ Donors.

In 2019, 166,000 Australians died. Still only 548 were solid organ donaors allowing 1444 people a second chance in life. This reflect a decline from 2018 of 554 donors and 1543 transplants.

2018 was a record year for Australia, but still below world standards and donor rates as where we should be.

Currenly Australia is listed 17nd in the world for donation, a long way to go with much needed work from Zaidee's Rainbow Foundation yet to be done.

Over the past 15 years Allan Turner has presented Zaidee’s Story to over 160 schools nationally.

Children and teens are presented with many heroes and role models nowadays, mainly through the media. Sport, TV, Film and popular music are the most highlighted areas that young people turn to for inspiration. Schools and parents are aware of the power of these representations of fame and that many of them do not inspire our young people in positive ways, in fact the often shallow and glitzy “celebrities” many young Australian admire have few personal traits that allow them to be called heroes.

The power of Zaidee’s and the Rainbow Foundation’s story is that it connects with children and adults as a genuinely inspiring example of the power of giving – an Australian child and family that we can connect with, who, having suffered a terrible loss decided to make a real difference through giving others the information and motivation to donate their organs.

This resource will assist teachers to explore the issue of organ and tissue donation through sharing Zaidee’s story, and to assist students to raise awareness of the need to increase the low organ and tissue donation rate of Australians. Teaching about organ and tissue donation can be part of Science, Biology, Study of Society, Health and Wellbeing and Physical Education, Values Education or be incorporated into themes in primary school or become part of special projects.

For more details about our schools program, please ask Allan Turner allan@zaidee.org or 0412985211.