Young Aussies Are Being Urged To Become Organ Donors
Australians aged 18 to 25 are the least likely to have registered as organ and tissue donors, but the government is hoping to get more of them on board.
Clement always knew he would need a kidney transplant at some point in his life, but having that reality come to a head in his first year of university still came as a shock.
"I hadn't thought much about it, until I was told: 'You're going to need it in six months'," Mr McLernon O'Donnell told AAP.
The Canberra law student's kidneys became damaged through a condition he experienced in his first couple of years of life, bringing their function level down to 30 per cent.
That function continued to drop by one or two per cent each year until it fell sharply by 10 per cent when Clement was 20.
He was told at that time in 2017 he would need a new kidney within six months or begin dialysis.
Luckily for the aspiring lawyer, his network was all too eager to help.
"I was fortunate I had a lot of friends and family around me who were basically offering their kidneys," he said.
Clement's older brother Liam proved the best match and the transplant went ahead smoothly.
But preparing for his operation at the hospital, Clement realised others hadn't been so lucky.
"There was another man there...he had just gotten his second kidney transplant, but he had been on a dialysis for nine years since the last kidney had failed, waiting for nine years on the waiting list."
Dialysis is no easy life, Clement stressed.
"You're very exhausted and tired and you can't maintain a full-time job."
Two years after his transplant, Clement has a new lease on life and a lot of gratitude to his brother.
But he hopes other young people will consider registering as organ donors - making their organs available when they die - to save lives.
"It is important to sign up and let your friends and your family know that this is something you want to do, just so that you can be confident going forward."
The sentiment comes as the Organ and Tissue Authority is encouraging young people to join the Australian Organ Donor Register as part of DonateLife Week, kicking off on Sunday.
People aged 18 to 25 are the least likely to have registered as donors or spoken to their family about wanting to become one, a recent survey of 1256 Australians conducted by YouGov Galaxy found.
The survey found 88 per cent of people in the younger age group were eager to sign up but just 14 per cent had.
Of those who hadn't registered, 37 per cent said they wanted to but hadn't gotten around to it, and 37 per cent had been put off by common myths.
"This latest research suggests there could be around one million young Australians who are keen to register, but haven't," Organ and Tissue Authority chief executive Lucinda Barry said.
Myths include that some people can't donate because of their lifestyle choices such as smoking or drinking, or because they are too old.
People who are signed up still need their next of kin to approve their desire to be an organ donor when they die.
Nine out of 10 families agree to donation when their family member is registered to be a donor.