Consenting to save another life

Organ donation is the final gesture a person can make but it's still up the family to give the final okay.
Organ donation is the final gesture a person can make but it's still up the family to give the final okay. helllbilly

THE death of Cole Miller was terrible in its rawness.

A life unfairly snatched from a family who lost their son and brother as the result of a senseless act of violence in an environment that proffers to be safe in its social frequency.

An innocent bystander caught up in a situation beyond his control, he paid the ultimate price, leaving a community reeling and permanent void in the hearts of all who knew him.

All the while he rested in hospital in his heartbreakingly, unrepairable state, surrounded by his distraught family and understanding medical staff, the last heroic act Cole could muster was that of being an organ donor.

Of course that decision was taken out of his hands the moment he became eligible to donate, a victim of circumstances where several planets have to align, not for Cole as this sad story goes, but for the recipients of his final gesture.

Without the blessing of his family, Cole's perfectly functioning organs, those same ones that powered this charismatic young man more than 24 hours earlier, would too be relinquished to the fate every lifeless body endures unless consent is given.

It barely needs to be said that losing someone in the prime of their life is one of the most difficult things any family will face, but being able to garner the strength to make the decision to give, let's face it, pieces of their loved one away in order to help save a stranger's life, must be as confronting as it is profound.

What the Miller family required was not only unshakeable bravery but an element of open discussion and pre-planning, however improbable it may have seemed at the time, the cold reality being they were forced by awful circumstances to enact on their family pledge.

Cole and his family's generosity means six families will get a second chance at life, something the Millers and Cole never got themselves, but despite that, could turn around, stricken with grief, and rise beyond their own devastation to enable that to happen.

Helping to humanise what can seem like callous and mechanical in nature is the best way to encourage more Australian families to prepare better, just in case that moment we all dread comes along.

Despite our catch cry of mates helping mates, Australia still has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the world.

The cloak and dagger procedures and terms like 'harvesting' don't help mum or dad start the conversation, even if it is medically correct.

While sharing the basic details of the recipients is a careful process, it should be encouraged, not just with the families involved directly but also the general public.

It doesn't mean they need to meet each other or know names, but not disclosing any information ensures the process of organ donation remains an enigma.

People are then less likely to feel comfortable or willing to explore the possibilities well before any bedside vigil, which is no place for awkward conversations.

It's a discussion I've had with my only offspring, a daughter, now slightly older than Cole, and while we will hardly be in any state for lucid thinking if either of us were to suffer a similar fate, it is something that between us is written in stone, not just on our driver's licence.

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