RIP M. Yunupingu

It is a sad day in the music world with the news that M. Yunupingu of Yothu Yindi has passed away while waiting for a kidney transplant. For me, as a writer, M. Yunupingu was an inspiration for the way he used words to change the world. But he has also inspired me to follow his footsteps and share my experiences with renal failure, especially given that I’m about to go back on dialysis in a few weeks.

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Article in Link Disability Magazine

I recently contributed some information on my kidney transplant experience to an article in the August edition of Link Disability Magazine.

http://www.linkonline.com.au/Link/article/427

The article talks about the Australian Transplant Games, which are a fantastic event for promoting organ donation and giving thanks to donor families.

World Transplant Games

During the recent World Transplant Games on the Gold Coast, our bus was delayed late one night. Cramming onto the last bus, a dozen of us had to stand during the thirty-minute trip back to our hotel. With sore feet and weary bodies from the sporting events, there were subsequently a few complaints.

I filled in the time taking in my surroundings. Like a carnival, lights tinted the faces of individuals: the bus driver turned blue, two ladies in front of me turned red and a young boy turned yellow as the bus passed under the neon lights of the Gold Coast’s  street lights.

Trying to stay awake, I listened in on someone else’s conversation (as all aspiring writers do). Two mothers sat with their respective daughter and son who were crammed into a seat sleeping. Conversations at the Transplant Games begin in the same way, not with ‘what do you do for a living’ and ‘where do you live’, rather ‘what transplant did you have’ and ‘what drugs do you take’.

“What transplant has your daughter had?” asked the mother of the young boy.

“Kidney.”

“And all is going well?”

The mother of the daughter nodded.

“And your son?”

“Liver,” she stroked her son’s head and then mouthed silently so he didn’t see, “but we are currently waiting for another one.”

As if knowing what she said the boy awoke stared up at the lady with a look that would have melted an ogre’s heart. He stared up with amber eyes; eyes a striking and sickening yellow. The boy’s complexion was still yellow. The neon lights had long since passed.

Comic depictions of aliens seldom pain eyes so yellow (it looks too surreal). Only a liver patient could relate to that yellowing that signals there is little time left.

It is small reminders like these, which reinforce that life is a blessing.

I was blessed not to have a seat on the bus – it reminded me that I can still stand.