Beaudesert transplant recipient Selina Harding's life turned around by organ donation

GRATEFUL: Selina Harding can now work full-time and was able to see her daughters' graduation thanks to a lung transplant.
GRATEFUL: Selina Harding can now work full-time and was able to see her daughters' graduation thanks to a lung transplant.

SELINA Harding knows first-hand what it is like to have her life saved by someone else's generosity.

During Donate Life Week, which runs until Sunday, Ms Harding is urging people to chat with their loved ones about organ donation.

Born with cystic fibrosis - a recessive genetic condition that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system - Ms Harding's life was saved by a lung transplant four years ago.

"I hit about 40 and I couldn't really work anymore, I was on oxygen 24 hours a day and I was really struggling," she said.

"The transplant was a last resort.

"I waited six months for my lungs (and) I don't think I could have made it much past that time, (but) since my transplant I can run, walk and do so many things I couldn't before.

"I've never been able to work full time and now I'm a manager (at Beaudesert Furniture Court).

"I got to see my daughter graduate from university when I didn't think I would."

While organ donation is not something most people think about often, it has long been a topic close to home for Ms Harding's family.

"I've always known that (organ transplant) was what was going to end up for me if I was lucky enough to make it," she said.

"When I was a teenager the waiting lists were much longer, maybe two to three years, and a lot of people would pass away in that time.

"The struggle of coming to terms with the fact that someone else was going to have to pass away for me to get my gift was kind of a hard thing to do but that's why I'm so passionate about trying to raise that awareness of what organ donation can do for people like myself."

Figures from Donate Life show that while nearly 70 per cent of people believe registering for organ donation is important, only 33 per cent have done it.

About 50 per cent of Australians have discussed whether they want to be a donor with their loved ones, and 36 per cent of people feel confident they know if their loved ones are willing to be a donor.

"It's about spreading that awareness that people really need to have the chat to let their loved ones know that they would like to donate their organs in time of passing, because ultimately it's the family that makes the decision," Ms Harding said.

"Even if you were passionate about it yourself, your family can still turn around and say no, we don't want to donate their organs."

She said opening up the conversation could bust myths surrounding organ donation.

"People think that if a loved one was unconscious the doctors wouldn't try to save them because they think that they can harvest their organs, which is just not true," she said.

Despite common misconceptions, elderly people, smokers and drinkers and people who have lived in the UK can still donate organs.

Ms Harding said she was eternally grateful to the person who had saved her life.

"Someone made a decision to donate their organs under horrible, horrible circumstances and here I am to tell the tale," she said.

"Thank you is really all you can say (but) it doesn't seem like enough. There's no word in the English language that can describe the gratitude that I feel."

People can register as an organ donor and find out more about organ donation at donatelife.gov.au.

They should also make their decision known to family and friends.