Maree Martin holds a photo of Cameron who is her organ donor. Picture: Tony Martin
Maree Martin holds a photo of Cameron who is her organ donor. Picture: Tony Martin

A father-of-five’s death gives life to another

A MACKAY woman who desperately needed a replacement set of lungs was given the gift of life when a father of five children died.

Maree Martin said Cameron, her organ donor, saved her life after she was diagnosed with emphysema.

"I was good at something and that was smoking," Ms Martin said.

"I smoked about 35 a day from when I was 15 to 60.

"They (doctors) gave me 18 months to two years to live, if I was lucky."

She likened the disease to having lungs like a "shabby stocking full of holes".

"You can breathe in (air), but it was just escaping out."

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She said the feeling was similar to holding your breath while pinching your nose closed.

Simple tasks such as grocery shopping required regular rest stops and she could not shower on her own, she said.

Ms Martin said her condition declined and so she relocated to Brisbane to be placed on the double lung transplant waiting list.

"You have to live within three hours of the hospital to have a transplant," Ms Martin said.

"So I had to pack up … seven weeks later, they rang me and said, 'We've got a set of organs here, do you still want them?'

"After the transplant, the team said, 'Oh we thought you were fairly close to not being here'.

"The clock was really ticking down, but I was lucky".

Maree Martin after her double lung transplant with 'tubes sticking out everywhere'. Picture: Contributed.
Maree Martin after her double lung transplant with 'tubes sticking out everywhere'. Picture: Contributed.

She said the surgery required sawing through her breastbone and piecing her ribs back together with "little wire loops".

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What followed was months of complications including developing pneumonia, thrush, sugar diabetes, chronic kidney failure, swelling, nerve damage, muscle weakness, gastroparesis, and needing her new lungs drained three times, she said.

"But I'm here today and I'm happy and healthy," she said.

Ms Martin is now a DonateLife ambassador and is encouraging others to sign up to become a tissue and organ donor at donatelife.gov.au

"I would love to think nobody required a transplant to be honest, but don't be scared," she said.

"It's not a scary place when you consider the alternative and when push comes to shove, nobody says no."


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