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Ipswich double organ transplant recipient remembers moment match was found

Ipswich double organ transplant recipient Alise Minogue is making the most of life and very grateful for her “second chance”, thanks to organ donation.

She remembers the moment the news broke that a donor match had been found.

“I had been on the transplant waiting list for four years and very ill for 12 years,” Ms Minogue said.

“My parents and brother Jack were by my side, and in 48 hours I was ready for what was a 14-hour operation.

“None of this would be possible without the selfless act of the wonderful family allowing their child to be an organ donor.

“You could be that person that gives someone else an opportunity at life by becoming an organ or tissue donor,” she said.

Despite missing years of schooling, the now 27-year-old university student and recent TAFE graduate has made the most of study and opportunities.

“I’m so grateful to be healthy, I wouldn’t change anything, but it hasn’t been easy,” she said.

“I think because I never got to go to school and experience education, I’ve found my own path.”

Ms Minogue was born with infantile polycystic kidney disease, a lifelong genetic disease that gets worse over time as fluid-filled cysts form and enlarge the kidneys, often leading to kidney failure.

Her childhood was spent in and out of hospital, many times fighting for life in intensive care or enduring the effects of her condition and subsequent infections.

Growing up in Sydney, she said the Westmead Children’s Hospital became her second home.

“Multiple medications, therapies and surgeries to keep me alive took their toll on my body,” she said.

Parents Kim and Dennis Minogue were told their pre-teen would need a kidney transplant, but it wasn’t long until a secondary condition put further pressure on her body.

“I was about 11 or 12 when my liver started failing, and we knew I needed a transplant. I was very, very ill, and developed sepsis,” she said.

“I was diagnosed with a condition called cholangitis and this became the bigger problem.

“My body would constantly become immune to different prescribed antibiotics because I would be on them for such long periods due to constant infections.”

Ms Minogue had a liver and kidney transplant in 2003 before moving with her family to Ipswich to start a new life.

“I’ve been back to the hospital to visit the doctors and surgeons who did the surgery. They are like a second family to me,” she said.

Alise Minogue visiting her transplant surgeons Dr Michael Storeman (left) and Dr Albert Shun in 2019, a decade after her last trip to Sydney to thank them

“Now I live in Ipswich, the doctors and nurses at the hospital have been amazing. Every time I’m admitted, they are always so caring and look after me.”

She’s encouraging families and loved ones to talk to each other about their wishes, learn more about organ donation or join the donor register.

“I was a child, and I was under heavy drugs a lot of the time, so I don’t remember most of it,” Ms Minogue said.

After a match was found, Ms Minogue underwent a 14-hour operation.

In four days, Ms Minogue was walking, and began setting goals each day, determined to make the most of her second chance. Amazingly, she went home two weeks after the double transplant.

Her body accepted the new liver and kidney and, after more than a decade, Ms Minogue has not had any troubles with the donated organs.

DonateLife Week 2020 is 26 July to Sunday 2 August.

For more information, visit www.donatelife.gov.au.

Did you know?

  • About 1700 Australians are currently on a waitlist for a transplant. A further 12,000 are on dialysis, many of whom would benefit from a kidney transplant.
  • In 2019, 1683 lives were transformed by 548 deceased and 239 living organ donors and their families.
  • In 2019, more than 12,000 Australians benefited from eye and tissue donation.
  • In Australia, Nine out of 10 families proceed with donation when their loved one is registered but only six out of 10 proceed if they don’t know what their loved one wanted.
  • One in three Australians are registered donors despite the majority (69 per cent) believing that registration is important.
  • In 2019, there was a record number of more than 48,000 Queenslanders registered on the Australian Organ Donor Registry.

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