Hoping to save lives

Hoping to save lives

Jasmyn Hollamby produced a book about her aunt to help raise awareness about organ donation. Photograph — Matt Devlin.

What began as a school project for 15-year-old Huntingdale resident Jasmyn Hollamby has transformed into a campaign to raise awareness for organ donation.

Every year students entering year 10 at St Brigid’s, which Jasmyn attends, must undertake a year long project on the subject of their choosing.

Jasmyn chose organ donation after being inspired by her aunt Stephanie Harding, whose corneas were donated after she died in a motorbike accident in 1996.

Jasmyn has since produced a book about the subject and wants to encourage more people to sign up to be donors.

“When I started the project I wanted to do something different and meaningful,” she said.

“I didn’t really know much about my aunt before I started.

“Mum did tell us a bit from her childhood but I didn’t really know she had donated her organs.

“I also didn’t know anything about organ donation.”

Jasmyn said she had since learnt that while more people are donating their organs every year, the numbers were still too low, particularly given that just one to two per cent of people who die in hospital die in the specific circumstances required to be a donor.

“That’s why it’s so important to have a conversation about donating your organs because if your family doesn’t know you want to be a donor they may not agree to it if you die,” she said.

“I want to spread that message along. My goal for my project was to raise awareness for organ donation and I want to continue that so that more people donate because heaps of people die waiting for an organ when they don’t have to.”

Jasmyn’s mother Michelle Hollamby said being able to donate her sister’s corneas helped make the best of a devastating situation.

“When Steph died she was 22 so it was horrendous and traumatic but there was a peace in knowing and being able to follow her wishes,” she said.

“Mum and dad didn’t hesitate because they knew Steph wanted to be an organ donor but that’s where it’s important to have that conversation.”

Mrs Hollamby said the extent of her sister’s injuries meant only her corneas could be donated and they were given to two young people, fully restoring one recipient’s sight.

“It would have been great if it went to older people but knowing that she changed two younger people’s lives just gave mum and dad a lot – it was really fantastic,” she said.

Jasmyn will present her book to her school in August in time for DonateLife Week, which runs from July 31 to August 7.

This year DonateLife is encouraging people to register on the Australian Organ Donor Register because when families learn their loved one was on the register, in 91 per cent of cases they will honour the decision and consent to the donation of organs and tissues.