Transplant recipient dying and in search for donor family

Anita Johnston received a lung transplant about four years ago but she is unlikely to survive into 2015 despite the plethora of drugs she needs to take. She is hoping to find the sister of the donor who she only knows as Gypsy. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Anita Johnston received a lung transplant about four years ago but she is unlikely to survive into 2015 despite the plethora of drugs she needs to take. She is hoping to find the sister of the donor who she only knows as Gypsy. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

GRACEMERE'S Anita Johnston says she may be dead by Christmas.

And there's one thing she wants to do before she goes.

Anita wants to find the family of the person who gave her a second chance.

Three years ago, Anita was the recipient of a double lung transplant.

Her body is now rejecting the organs.

"Both lungs are failing," Anita said.

Anita contacted The Morning Bulletin this week as she desperately wants to find the person who donated the precious organs to her.

"I want to meet them and say thank you," Anita said.

The organ transplant operation took place on the in May 2011 at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane.

The 9 ½ hour operation was followed by several heart attacks and an induced coma.

"I was put into a coma for six days to help me deal with the pain," Anita said.

She said after the transplant the elder sister of the organ donor wrote to her, and they have been in contact ever since.

"I know she'd like to meet me," Anita said.

Anita does not know the full identity of the donor.

"The only thing I know is that the donor was a hospitality worker in northern Australia who went by the nickname 'gypsy'.

"The letters I receive are intercepted by the organisation 'DonateLife' at the Princess Alexandra Hospital before they are passed on to me.

"It is their policy to keep the identity of the organ donors' secret," Anita said.

Anita said she was thankful for the lung transplant as it gave her more time to live.

For people with a serious or life-threatening illness, an organ or tissue transplant could mean a second chance at life. Around 1,700 people are on organ transplant waiting lists at any one time.

Anita said that even though her lungs are failing, she is not on the waiting list to receive a second transplant.

"If I received a lung transplant I would be lucky to live another year.

"It would be a waste of a healthy organ," Anita said.

Anita prides herself on living as normal a life as possible, but she does have her "off" days.

"I do what I can, when I can," she said.

Organ donor registry

THE Australian Organ Donor Register is the only national register where people can record their decision about becoming a transplant or tissue donor for transplantation after death. You must be 16 years or older. By choosing to record your decision on the Donor Register, you could save the lives of up to 10 people and improve the lives of many more.

Call 1800 777 203 to register on the phone or ask for a registration form.

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