Our ACT State Manager Matthew O’Loughlin is heavily involved with Jersey Day, a national day to raise awareness of The Organ and Tissue Authority and the Donate Life Network.
Matt’s own son, Jayden, was given the greatest gift of all, a second chance at life. Matt continues to work closely with Jersey Day to build awareness of these critical initiatives.
in Matt’s own words, we sat down and had a chat to show why this day is so important.
It has now been 16.5 years since my son Jayden had a liver transplant which has given him a second chance at life, the greatest gift of all.
Jayden was born with acute liver failure which to this day we don’t know what the cause was. When he was born, the local doctors just thought it was jaundice, but for us, it didn’t seem right that he slept so much. It got to point one evening when he was only about three months old where he had a seizure and we were flown to the children’s hospital at Randwick, which then became our home for an extended period.
I worked through the week and travelled up on weekends to be with Jayden and my wife, Tracey. We were looked after by Dr Michael Storman who was the best specialist in this field. He has looked after Jayden for 16 years, which is quite amazing. We also love the hospital banter these days. Jayden’s other specialist’s name is Ted O’Loughlin and he is known as Uncle Ted!
Jayden passed all of the tests to go on the waiting list and at that point, we were transferred to Westmead where the liver specialists were. We lived downstairs in the parents quarters and played the waiting game which was one of the hardest things we ever had to endure as a family. The thought of not knowing, the question of why us and what if our child doesn’t get the chance to live a full and happy life and knowing the risk of a 14-hour operation.
We had a couple of false starts where the donated organ wasn’t suitable. We had just about given up as Jayden spent his time in the intensive care ward where he was only given a couple of weeks to survive with his tiny body starting to give up.
It was Christmas Eve 2001 when we got the greatest gift ever. They found a donor for Jayden. As the donor was an adult, the liver was cut down to suit Jayden’s small body. The operation was performed over 14 hours by one of the greatest surgeons we have ever met, Dr Albert Shun.
Jayden still has ongoing trips to Westmead every 3 months and from next year will have to go to RPA for check-ups. He has to take rejection drugs for the rest of his life but that’s a small thing to worry about and he is now loving and enjoying college with two things on his mind; girls and PlayStation 4!
He’s learning to drive as well which has been exciting and said he wants to get in sales like his dad so he’s working part-time at Big W which he really enjoys, with his main passion being gaming. Tracey and I feel blessed every day that our son has grown into a wonderful and amazing person and who is also grateful that he has a second chance.
To help spread awareness of what the Organ and Tissue Authority and the Donate Life Network, the Nathan Gremmo Community Fund launched Jersey Day. The idea behind Jersey day is to share the story of Nathan Gremmo, whose family had to make that decision after he lost his life in an accident so tragically which made the difference to so many others like Jayden got 16 years ago.
People can go to www.jerseyday.com.au and buy a yellow Jersey in support or you can wear your favourite team colours on the 31st of August. Sometimes we get so caught up day to day life that we need to take a step back and think there is always someone else worse off than me and to be grateful for every moment we have. And Life is the greatest gift, we just need to have that conversation with our family.
Be sure to get your jersey on wherever you are on 31st August 2018 to spread the message!