Tradie’s ‘second job’ is literally a matter of life or death
CRAIG Wade's eyes are the only thing visible as he shifts in his hospital chair.
His handsome features, marred only by a few wrinkles, are covered by a medical mask to protect against the coronavirus.
Craig is a son, a brother, a father, a grandfather and a husband.
He dreams of travelling the country in his caravan.
Really, Craig could be any one of us.
But through no fault of his own, he makes the trek from his Murwillumbah home to the Tweed Hospital for his "second job" three times a week.
Craig often passes his five-hour shift rugged up in a blanket, playing on his phone or watching television.
This "second job" is literally life or death for him.
The colloquial term is a nickname dialysis patients use for their hospital dialysis sessions.
About 16 years ago, Craig found out he had polycystic kidney disease, a diagnosis he was warned would eventually end in kidney failure.
At 51, he has been waiting for a kidney transplant for two years.
Craig is one of 1700 Australians who are currently waiting for a lifesaving or life-changing organ or tissue transplant.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday he makes the journey to the Tweed Hospital's renal unit to be hooked up to a machine to remove waste and extra fluid from the blood.
The process would normally be done by the body's kidneys if they were functioning correctly.
The carpenter-by-trade still works about 40 hours a week around his dialysis.
Thanks to the pandemic, he must now go through his five hours at the hospital each day alone, without the company of family or friends.
It's hard for him to speak about what an organ transplant would mean for his quality of life and his family.
"It would mean getting your life back," Craig said.
"Family gets me through. I bury myself in work a lot."
He's not angry at his lot in life, instead accepting "life happens, you just keep going, do what you have to do".
Craig is registered as an organ donor himself and off the back of DonateLife Week last week, he is encouraging others to register as organ and tissue donors and talk to their loved ones about their decision.
"In my mind, once I'm gone people can have what they need," he said.
Craig has two daughters with the same kidney disease but, thankfully, their kidneys are still functioning well.
At the other end of the organ donation journey is Jane Clare from Tweed Heads.
The mum-of-one has spent the last 14 years since her lifesaving double lung transplant grateful for her "second chance at life".
Jane was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a disorder causing severe damage to the
lungs, at six months old.
She had lived with reduced lung capacity for a long time and receiving a lung
transplant was the only option to improve her quality of life.
"Before my transplant, getting out of bed was a struggle and walking upstairs was impossible.
At the time I probably only had six to 12 months to live," Jane said.
"It was so incredible, my life changed.
"Now I enjoy food whereas before I was on supplement
drinks for a couple of years prior to my transplant.
"I swim, play tennis three times a week and walk every day which I just couldn't do before.
"I've been able to enjoy all the milestones that I would never have been around to see like
seeing my son graduate and turn 21."
Tweed donation specialist Dr Mike Lindley Jones, said it was important to not only join the register, but to make sure your wishes are known to loved ones.
"Registration is so important because it leaves families in no doubt of their loved one's wish to be an organ and tissue donor," he said.
"We know that in nine out of 10 cases, families agree to donation when their family member is a registered donor."
In the Tweed, about half of adults are currently registered donors, well above the national average of one in three.
You can no longer register via the NSW driver's licence, now you can join the Australian Organ Donor Register in just a minute with your Medicare card at donatelife.gov.au