'Second chance': How a transplant turned Chris' life around
THREE rounds of gruelling dialysis per week meant Chris Olin couldn't make plans to travel or perform ordinary tasks at his house like putting up a new fence.
But a healthy kidney, gifted by a complete stranger earlier this year, has changed his life.
Mr Olin will be one of the guest speakers at today's annual DonateLife Service of Remembrance who will be thanking the organ donors who have helped make a difference in the lives of so many Australian recipients.
He considers himself "doubly thankful", having previously received a bone marrow transplant 12 years ago to treat his blood cancer.
Mr Olin, who started dialysis more than nine months ago due to a separate medical condition, said the transplant had made a huge difference in his life.
"It involved me going into Hervey Bay Hospital three times a week for five-and-a-half hours every time," he said.
"It takes a lot of time and energy, you feel quite flat afterwards, the time out of your life is greater than the time in the chair.
"I'm feeling so much better... after I got through the initial phase from the surgery I just felt a thousand times better.
"I don't have to plan everything around those three trips into town... just this morning I was fencing, I'm getting stronger than I was on dialysis."
Mr Olin said the donation had given him a "second chance on life" as he is now able to draw up travel plans with his wife and help raise funds for groups like the Leukaemia and Kidney foundations and his wife's Rotary Club. He said Australia needed to improve organ donation by making it a default option.
"Right now, the only way to get onto the Organ Donor Registry is to make that application or fill that form out, but in other countries they automatically default you're going to donate," Mr Olin said.
"I think there's a lot of people who say 'It's a good idea' but don't get around to the paperwork."