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Herd of Hope

Written by: Erin Jones, Regional Reporter, Sunday Mail (SA) Published by: The Advertiser , March 2018
Posted on: 10 Mar 2018
Topic: Clark Farm Equipment News


Herd of Hope cattle drive heads to Sydney’s Bondi Beach to raise organ donation support, regional transplant service awareness

NO adversity is too big, or too hard to overcome for Megan McLoughlin.

As a child, she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, later became legally blind and needed an urgent lifesaving transplant, before being diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015.

“I know there’s always someone out there worse off than me,” Mrs McLoughlin, now 36, of Tanunda, says.

“My grandma used to say to me all the time when I was little, “I was sad because I had no shoes and then I saw a man who had no feet’ and it always rings true to me.”

Forever the optimist, not even her Herd of Hope charity cattle drive across Sydney Harbour Bridge being cancelled by the Federal Government last year dimmed her enthusiasm.

The event – more than five years in the making – is to raise national awareness about organ and tissue donation, and support regional transplant services.

Sydney’s Waverley Council heard her cause and, thanks to overwhelming generosity from strangers across Australia, her dream will be realised on Saturday.

Mrs McLoughlin along with her father, well-known Allendale North stockman Jim Willoughby, brother Tom, and four others on horseback, will drive 40-head of cattle along Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

Herd of Hope founder and organiser Megan McLoughlin with her father Jim Willoughby. Pic: Naomi Jellicoe

“I really want to bring Australia together to realise there’s a lot of good that comes out of organ donation,” the mother of two says.

“I met my husband a month after my transplant and had two children, so in my case they didn’t just save a life, they created life.”

But one story resonates most with Mrs McLoughlin.

It is of Michelle Seccull, who donated her three-year-old son, Ethan’s, organs after he was tragically hit by a train near the family home in country Victoria, in 2011.

“She sat holding Ethan’s hand when the doctors said they weren’t going to get their miracle and they couldn’t fix him,” Mrs McLoughlin says.

“She said to her husband ‘we might not get ours, but we can give other parents theirs’.

“To hear her speak and say it (organ donation) was the right thing to do and the only choice ... for someone to be so selfless touches me because someone like that saved my life.”

Mrs McLoughlin, who was born with only one kidney, was diagnosed with acute renal failure and given three weeks to live in 2010.

She received a lifesaving call 20 days later and received a kidney-pancreas transplant.

Organ and Tissue Authority statistics showed there were 510 deceased organ donors in Australia, helping save or change the lives of 1402 people in 2017.

One in three rural-based residents will need a transplant in their life, but many do not have the ability to stay at home to receive treatment.

Mrs McLoughlin says the Herd of Hope cattle drive represents the journey many country residents will face to receive an organ transplant.

“The road is not easy, it’s rough sometimes, you hit a lot of potholes, but you know where your final destination is,” Mrs McLoughlin

Mrs McLoughlin through the Herd of Hope journey has also realised Saturday’s event will not only raise organ donation awareness but awareness of the bush.

“We were actually asked recently by some one on the east coast if the cows would walk on two legs on the beach,” she says.

“What I forgot is that this is not just about education of what it’s like to have a transplant or be a donor family, but education of Australia.”

In order to increase transplant care services in country Australia, Mrs McLoughlin will relocate the cows to the Barossa Valley to breed from after the cattle drive.

The money raised will go towards establishing camps in the Northern Territory for children who have lost an organ donor parent or family member.

Undoolya Station owners Ben and Nicole Hayes, as well as donating the cattle, will host the camps and open their 14,000sq km property to strangers across Australia for the cause.

The Herd of Hope is undertaking a world-first study with UniSA to investigate the mental health impact having a transplant has on a person in regional areas.

Based on the report’s recommendations, Mrs McLoughlin aims to establish a counsellor in each district to visit SA’s 74 regional hospitals that can be used for organ retrieval.

For more details, see www.herdofhope.com.au

 

Become an Organ Donor

Registering on the Australian Organ Donor Register is important because it leaves your family in no doubt of your decision to become a donor. 

 



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