A BURST eardrum as a child was all it took for Emily Szilveszter's kidneys to slowly shut down.
The Yeppoon woman was just eight years old when she burst her eardrum, prompting an infection that would later attack her kidneys.
The damage sustained in the initial infection slowly degraded her kidney functionality and Emily would eventually be forced to start dialysis at 31 years old.
The process saw Emily hooked up to a machine for eight hours a night to help her failing kidneys remove toxins from her blood.
Three years later, she received a phone call with news of a donor and a chance at a new life.
But Emily said it was truly a bittersweet moment.
"It was the 29th of February that I got the call which I was not expecting ... I thought it would be five more years so I was really lucky," she said.
"It is not something you say no to.
"I got a new life but to do that I had a deceased donor ... somebody's family had to turn off a machine and say goodbye. It's not a celebratory day."
Emily spent two months in Brisbane, conducting testing to monitor that the kidney had taken successfully.
Now at 38 years old, she remains on medication to control her immune system and reduce the risk of organ rejection, but considers herself incredibly lucky.
Emily's message to the public is simple: talk about organ donation with your family.
"I try to post something on Facebook on the anniversary every year just to let people know about organ donation," she said.
"There are about 1500 people waiting for different transplant organs ... and only a really small percentage of people can donate.
"It is really important that everybody's family knows what they want."
Emily is planning a five-week trip to Europe with her husband this year, a luxury she's taking full advantage of her new lease on life.