Thursday 5 June 2014

Hansard of the Legislative Council




Mr PRESIDENT - Honourable members, I was going to call on the honourable member for Rosevears, but unfortunately he is ill today. He has already spoken with the honourable member for Hobart, who was third in line. He is stepping into the breach for the honourable member for Rosevears for special interest item No. 2.

[11.11 a.m.]

Mr VALENTINE (Hobart) - Mr President, I hope I can do this with the eloquence of the member for Rosevears. I acknowledge in the gallery this morning Michael Booth, Christine Booth and their son, Matthew, who this particular matter of personal interest is about.

Mr President, the honourable member for Rosevears commenced by saying that our lives progress smoothly with a little management. Unfortunately, this morning, that of the honourable member for Rosevears has not progressed as smoothly as he would have liked. He continued by saying that sometimes something totally unexpected happens and things change forever. This happened a few years ago to one of the honourable member for Rosevears' constituents and changed the course of his life. It changed so dramatically that in March this year he found himself running 42 kilometres - that is 26 miles - on ice in Antarctica. The honourable member's constituent's name is Michael Booth and he is present in the gallery.

His daughter, Alison, in late 2011 suffered a fatal brain aneurysm. When it was clear there was no possibility of recovery, a decision was made to consent for the donation of Alison's organs. This generous decision probably saved or improved the lives of four people. Since then, Michael Booth has devoted much of his life to promoting awareness of organ and tissue donation in memory of his daughter. He has done so by running marathons. He had been running marathons since 2002, but now he was running with the purpose of promoting organ donation. He has now run marathons on seven continents.

Michael is 59 years old, and his marathon tally is about the same. He has run a marathon in every Australian state and territory. He has competed in North and South America, Africa, China, Europe, as well as Antarctica, on seven continents, and he shows no signs of hanging up his running shoes. Michael Booth believes he is the first Tasmanian, and only the eighth Australian to complete a marathon on all seven continents. He had not believed he would complete a marathon on the seventh continent, Antarctica - the highest, driest, windiest and coldest continent on earth, but the opportunity came up earlier this year, after seven years of planning.

His performance in the Antarctic marathon, on ice, gravel and mud was waning about the 25‑kilometre mark. But he and his wife, Christine, had sponsored mile marker No. 11 in memory of his daughter, Alison. The marker had her name on it. He approached the marker tired and only walking. As he puts it, 'About 100 metres from the marker I realised I was running, and running quite well. On reflection, it was the inspiration from Alison.'

It was the inspiration of Alison's organ donation that spurred on Michael Booth's quest to increase awareness of organ and tissue donation around Australia. In 2013, 391 organ donors gave 1 122 Australians a new chance of life. Although Australia is a world leader for successful transplant outcomes, and the number of organ donations and transplant recipients in 2013 was the highest since records began, there are still up to 1 500 people waiting for a transplant.

While there has been significant progress in the clinical sector, Australia needs more active engagement and awareness within the community to increase the consent rate to organ and tissue donation. The process to register a donor is quite simple. You register your decision with the Australian Organ Donor register. Most importantly, you need to share your decision with your family. This is because in Australia the family of every potential donor is always asked to support the donation decision of their loved one. In the last 25 years to the end of 2013 in Tasmania 115 generous donors and their families have saved or improved the lives of 388 transplant recipients. It takes great courage and generosity to make the decision, as Michael Booth's family did, to donate a loved one's organs and tissues. I commend all Tasmanian donor families who have contributed in this way.

DonateLife was established in 2010 to coordinate organ and tissue donation within the state under a national reform package. The Tasmanian team provides specialist clinical support, training and provides awareness and educational presentations to the community and clinical network. Michael Booth believes that if pounding the ground over 26 miles makes just one more person aware of organ donation, it is worth it, and I would have to agree. Thank you very much to Michael Booth.

Members - Hear, hear.