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Kevin Rudd on organ transplantation

Posted Aug 15 2010 12:00am

You will recall that the former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd , was nominated in this blog as a Great Figure in Transplant / Non-Transplant History.

This was due to his work in establishing the Australian Organ & Tissue Donation & Transplantation Authority - working under the name DonateLife .

Mr Rudd spoke more on this tonight on the Channel 7 current affairs program Sunday Night .

Mr Rudd certainly demonstrated his sense of humour when asked what would have happened without his own aortic heart valve transplant:

I'd be six feet under and I'm sure that would've been a joy to many of my foes in politics.

Commenting on how, in his valedictory speech, he almost lost his composure when recalling the establishment of DonateLife, he remarks:

Yeah, well, I've spent a lot of time with people waiting for a transplant, really good people. So if you're given a chance as prime minister of the country to, you know, make a difference then you cannot do that without thinking of these faces because they're depending on you to get it done.

He also comments on the indifference that people who have not experienced transplant issues first-hand can show when asked to consider this issue:

All those sceptical cabinet ministers sitting around a table thinking: 'What's he on about?' I said: 'Well, we're going to do this because it means a lot for literally thousands of people.' So that's my hope, roll the clock on three years and we're out there as world leaders. If not, I've failed but I've tried.

This is certainly true of my own experience.  A number of my friends have unpromptedly stated to me that they have moved from being either indifferent or, indeed vaguely antagonistic of transplantation to a position of ardent support  - simply through witnessing the experience of Pauline and me.

Mr Rudd also mentions the difficulty of the patient's supporters and families:

Thérèse [Mr Rudd's wife] still finds it pretty emotional to talk about these things. I think it's often harder for immediate family. The one that's under the knife, that's got its own challenges but for your loved ones I think it's just much harder. I think she [Thérèse] found that and still finds it hard to talk about because suddenly as a young mum with two little kids starting up her own business, what's going to happen?

Again, this perception is spot on.  In some respects, with my transplant, I had the slightly easier ride - just sit back and do as I was told.  But Pauline had to deal with all the stuff surrounding the event - from the practicalities of dealing with a dodgy hotel owner who was not delivering to our transplant hospital the standard of post-discharge care that he had promised (and for which he was being paid), to the challenge of seeing one's spouse going through a transplant.

All in all, a very interesting interview.

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