“MY legs swelled up and then the next morning my whole body was yellow. I went to the doctors. They gave me a blood test and told me I had one day to live.”
Allira Smiley was just 15 years old last year when she was given an organ transplant just five hours after being diagnosed with liver failure.
She is still on medication and will have check-ups every three months for the rest of her life – but she is alive, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous, everyday Australian who chose to donate life.
“Donate your organs; you can't take them with you,” Allira said.
Allira's mother, Janay Mitchell, said it took doctors at The Tweed Hospital just two days to diagnose her daughter with Wilson's Disease, a rare condition that prevents the liver from processing copper.
“She had different tests for two days until a doctor noticed copper-coloured rings forming around her eyes, and they told us she had one day to live. They found her a liver in just five hours,” Ms Mitchell said.
“In just two days she went from being number 300 to number one on the waiting list for organ donations.
“Organ donation is so important; what better gift could you give someone?”
Allira said the whole process was frightening and surreal.
“When they told me I had to get a blood test I was so scared.
“ I had never had one before and I just wanted to go home.
“I didn't actually know I was getting the operation till afterwards; I was too sick to know what was going on.
“It just hurt, everything, the whole area.”
Dr Michael Lindley-Jones, director of Organ and Tissue Donation for the North Coast, said each organ donor could save or benefit 10 lives.
“The people closest to you need to know your donation wishes, because in the end they will be asked to give the final okay,” Dr Lindley-Jones said.
Allira is now back at school with plans to go to TAFE next year.
She is all smiles because she was one of the lucky ones.
She waited just five hours, some people wait years.
The life-threatening nature of her condition meant she was pushed to the top of a list of 1700 people waiting for organ transplants.
“Transplantation means that a very sick person can return to a normal life and be an active member of the family again and return to work,” Dr Lindley-Jones said.
“Nine hundred organs are retrieved a year, but at the moment there are about 1700 on the list.
This week is Donate Life week raising awareness for organ donation across Australia.
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