The Herd of Hope charity cattle drive was a heartwarming event for bereaved people from all over regional Australia, with families of organ donors gathering on Bondi Beach to celebrate organ donation.
A model tree was brought to the beach, its leaves a note of remembrance for individual organ donors.
Event organiser Lizzie Mazur, Adelaide, said the day provided a cathartic event for many donor families who had lost loved ones.
“I was so happy we were able to create awareness for people who have given that gift of life and recognition for donor families,” Mrs Mazur said.
Related: PHOTOS Herd of Hope here to help
The Herd of Hope drove the first mob of cattle ever on to the world’s most famous strip of sand on Saturday.
It was done to raise funds and awareness for organ donation, and services for organ donor families and transplant recipients.
“I met two young women, sisters from Victoria, who lost their mum 18 months ago and flew up to mark her passing for the first time.
“Their feedback was so heartwarming. They spent time with other families and transplant recipients and left knowing their decision was the right one.
”I’ve had letters from so many people who thanked us for having the memory of their loved ones honoured.”
Mrs Mazur said the support system for donor families is fragmented and in most cases unavailable.
”There is a big focus from Organ Transplant Australia on increasing awareness of the issue, increasing organ donation and donor registriations,” she said.
“Historically there has been less of an emphasis for ongoing support for the families of organ donors.”
Mrs Mazur is calling for creation of a new body to support donor families.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily OTA’s role to support donor families, it should be a separate,” she said.
“There’d be one side of organ donation support driving donations, and another there for families of donors, with a psychological support network.
“I think that would create an all-round better outcome, and you would have donor families spreading the message on how wonderful donation can be.
“Unfortunately, right now a lot of people don’t have that experience.”
Donations will fund research at University of South Australia into counselling services for organ donor families and transplant care nurses in the bush.
Australia’s donation rates also need attention.
Those awaiting transplants may be forced to relocate to major cities, to be close to transplant facilities at major hospitals when organs become available.
Of the 74,000 deaths that occurred in 2015, 920 resulted in organ transplants.
Australia ranks 22 in international organ donation rates, one of the lowest for a developed nation.
Like many regional residents, Wendy Brown, Harden, NSW, travelled to Bondi for the day to support a cause close to her heart.
She was marking the 13th anniversary of her organ transplant.
“It’s amazing to bring the bush to city and for the people here to realise what we go through with lack of services, and the distances we have to travel,” Ms Brown said.
The Herd of Hope will also support the creation of a network of transplant care nurses for regional organ recipients, who are often hundreds, or even thousands, of kilometres from appropriate care.
The story Donor families find pride and comfort in Herd of Hope first appeared on Farm Online.