Independent and part of the community
Donor Families Australia is an independent organisation, completely directed by its
membership to help improve the experience of Donor Families.
We endeavour to work with all similar organisations such as those involved with organ and tissue donation in collaborative manner for the betterment of all.
Membership is made up of Donor Families who control the network’s activities.
There are also Associates (friends of) who are not themselves donor families but have an interest in, and are supportive of, the organisation and its members.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is made up predominately of Donor Families with the Chair specifically being a Donor Family member.
Donor Families Australia is here so Donor Families have a place to go. Help us to build a caring community and shape the future of this caring national network.
Bruce McDowell – Chairman
Bruce and his wife Karen became a Donor Family in 2008, when their nineteen year old daughter Alysha died in a car accident and they said “yes” to Alysha being a Donor.
Bruce has previously been a WA DonateLife Advisory Committee member and formed part of an initiative to build the Donor Awareness Fountain in Geraldton, WA.
In addition to his own accounting practice, Bruce is inaugural Chair of the Donor Families Australia Board of Directors.
Graham Harrison – Secretary
The death of Graham and Elayne’s ten year old son Ben following surgical complications in 1993, resulted in their decision to donate his organs and as an outcome, Graham became heavily involved in the promotion and improvement of the organ donation and transplantation systems.
Over the years he has been involved with ACCORD, Australians Donate, Transplant Australia and more recently, ShareLife Australia.
However, it is through Donor Families Australia that he sees donor families’ voices grow collectively, to the point where they will be involved in all aspects of improving Australia’s organ donation and transplant systems. He is particularly interested in donor family support at the time of donation and the years that follow.
Holly Northam is Assistant Professor in Critical Care Nursing at the University of Canberra. She is a Registered Nurse, Midwife, and Doctoral Candidate exploring the experiences of families who have made organ donation decisions.
Amongst her previous clinical roles, Holly was an organ donor co-ordinator and is currently a Director on the Board of ShareLife Australia and a Churchill Fellow.
In 2009, Leanne and Rick’s twenty-one year old son Brett was tragically killed in a freak accident whilst holidaying with friends. Brett had made his wishes known in regards to organ donation and so his parents consented; his gift saved three people’s lives.
Leanne is passionate about supporting donor families. She is a volunteer with DonateLife, the Donor Family Representative for Transplant Australia (Victoria) and a support group leader with The Compassionate Friends Victoria.
In February 2009, Philippa’s life was forever changed; her beautiful, kind, wonderful husband Peter died suddenly and without warning.
Married for 37 happy years, they were looking forward to retirement and travelling, especially to Spain to see their Spanish grandchildren. It was not to be… life can change in an instant.
Philippa retired from the newspaper industry after twenty-five years and was invited to join Donor Families Australia where she finds involvement very rewarding. She notes how she feels part of a very caring, loving Australia-wide family, who are there to help and listen to everyone.
In 2007, after eight years on dialysis, Kevin became recipient of a donor kidney.
Kevin is a painter by trade, and now able to do a full day of work without feeling his previous exhaustion. To demonstrate his new found fitness, Kevin has so far competed in three Australian Transplant Games, one being in Melbourne which he chaired as Transplant Australia Representative. There have also been three Games in Great Britain and one World Transplant Games in Sweden. He is also Victorian Captain of the Transplant Cricket Team.
In 2012, Kevin established the Donor and Recipient Facebook page which he continues to administer. The page now has around 700 members and hosts continued conversation between Recipients and Donor Families.
Kelli McDonald, Queensland
In 2013, Kelli’s Mum, Maree suffered a brain aneurysm. Upon realising their Mum’s brain death was imminent, Kelli and her two brothers approached medical staff advising of their Mum’s wish to become an organ and tissue donor. Maree gifted three people a second chance at life; donating her lungs, liver and a kidney.
Kelli says that she and her family received exceptional care from the Townsville General Hospital’s ICU Doctor, Nurse and DonateLife Co-ordinator, however, she feels that current support systems could be improved for donor families post -donation.
Since her Mum’s gift, Kelli has become passionate about DonateLife’s Have the chat that saves lives! campaign and through her position on the Donor Families Australia Committee, hopes to improve post donation support for other Queensland donor families.
Helen Day, Northern Territory
Helen Day lives in Darwin and is the mother of three sons and a daughter, aged between 21 and 29. She also has two grandchildren.
On 29 April 2012, Helen’s second eldest boy, Stewart was killed in a freak motorbike accident. He was four days short of his 24th birthday. Stewart devoted his life to helping people in need, volunteering in Uganda for six weeks at age nineteen, and another six months when he was twenty-one. On both occasions, he worked long hours to save for these trips.
In his life, he always put others first and it was a blessing that he was able to save and improve six lives through his organ donation.
Helen has devoted her life to continuing her son’s legacy by helping people in need. She volunteered in Uganda at the end of 2012 and has been a spokesperson for DonateLife NT, sharing Stewart’s story to inspire families to talk about organ donation, educate families and encourage more people to enrol as organ donors. Helen has experience with donor and recipient families, having a great understanding of the emotion and turmoil they experience.
Helen would like to see more support given to donor families and is keen to support families living in the Northern Territory. An accountant by trade, after her son’s death, she changed her career to be able to help people in need. Helen is currently undertaking a Diploma in Counselling and Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention which she expects to complete by June 2016.