Sir William and Lady Dean, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, recipients, and fellow donor families:
Today is a very special occasion for my wife and I, for at 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon, 15 years ago, our son Ben was born. Sadly, four and a half years ago, our son passed away. However, through the donation of his organs, a gentleman's quality of life has been vastly improved when he received Ben's kidneys and a young girl who received Ben's heart and lungs would not otherwise be alive today. On many occasions since then, family, friends, and acquaintances have stated how strong and brave Elayne and I were to be able to make the decision to donate our son's organs at such an emotional and distressing time. Our response has never waivered. Having lost our son, we both realised that we would never want other families to suffer the same heart-wrenching agony while we had the power to help. It was therefore a very logical and natural decision for us to donate Ben's organs, to those courageously clinging to life.
Today, I see well over 1,200 recipient athletes before me, about to compete in the XI World Transplant Games, which is living testimony that we made the right decision. Life is so precious that we should always grab it with both hands and enjoy it to the fullest. Our actions, along with many thousands of other donor families, some of whom are here today, have been able to give many more people that opportunity for a more fulfilling life.
I have had many conversations with donor families through my involvement with the Games, but one mother's comment remains with me in particular. She said, "As children we perceive that the true pleasure of a gift is receiving it, but when we are older, the real pleasure comes from the joy of giving." What greater gift can we give than the gift of life, and the knowledge of what it will bring to another individual and their family. Through the strength and convictions of donor families, the world wide organ donation and transplantation program continues to grow, bringing a greater quality of life to many thousands of people.
Since our son's passing, I have become aware of three aspects of the organ donation and transplantation programme that require greater awareness. For those of you today who have the desire to nominate as a potential donor, please discuss your intentions with your family, as they give the final approval. All federal, state government, and medical agencies should strive to develop a common uniform approach and support of the donor families nationally, as without donors, there would be no such program. And, finally, to recipients, please consider sending a letter of thanks to your donor family via your transplant coordinator (no matter how belated) because emotionally it means so much to us. This is demonstrated in an extract sent to me from one of Ben's recipients which said, "Thank you for helping save our child's life. The transplant of your son's heart and lungs came just in time."
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organising committee for embracing and seeking the involvement of donor families during the games. On behalf of all donor families, I wish all competitors the very best during the next six days. I'm sure you'll all enjoy the competition and new- found friendships and will continue to revel in the wonders of what life still has in store for you all.
I would now like to introduce our next guest. David Ridoutt is
gifted with a wonderful voice and has only recently returned from the
Vatican where he performed solo before the Pope and 25,000 guests.
David was a dialysis patient for many years when four and a half
years ago he was fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant.
Eighteen months ago, through a series of extraordinary events, it transpired
that David was in fact my son's kidney recipient. This was very
unusual, for legal constraints ensure that both parties identity remains
confidential. For David and I together with our wives, it has been
an emotional and moving experience from which a strong friendship has
developed. It is therefore with great pleasure that I now introduce
David Ridoutt who will sing "What a Wonderful World."
In Australia, all donor families are given a reflection rose when they
donate the organs of a loved one. This variety of rose is specially
grown and given only to families at the time of donation.