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Let’s Talk Organ and Tissue Donation Podcast

Stories of strength and resilience amid adversity are being showcased in a podcast series produced by our DonateLife Victoria team.

Let’s Talk Organ and Tissue Donation shines a light on the personal experiences of organ and tissue recipients, donor families, living donors, and expert medical and nursing specialists, to help raise awareness about organ and tissue donation.

Hosted by Bendigo’s hit91.9 radio presenter, Michael Billings, the podcast runs very close to his heart, he says, after losing his father while on the waitlist for a donor liver.

“After losing my father before he had an opportunity to receive a liver transplant, I have learnt there are so many facets to organ donation,” said Mr Billings.

“The one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the selflessness of families who choose to think of others amidst their own grief. It’s the greatest act of generosity.”

From tissue typing to transplantation

As a medical scientist, Fiona Hudson might work in a laboratory behind the scenes, but her role, and that of her team at the Victorian Transplantation and Immunogenetics Services (VTIS), is pivotal in the organ donation and transplantation process.

In the ninth episode of Let’s Talk Organ and Tissue Donation, host Michael speaks to Fiona about the incredibly complex work the VTIS team undertake through scientific testing - often known as “tissue typing” - to determine compatibility between a wait list patient and a potential organ donor.

Based at a laboratory at Australian Red Cross Lifeblood in West Melbourne, the VTIS team operate every day of the year, testing blood samples, isolating cells and DNA, so when an opportunity arises for a wait list patient to be matched with the right organ donor, the most up-to-date information is available to help the doctors and coordinators select the right recipient, at the right time.

While the VTIS team will never know any of the wait list patients personally, they do become familiar with some case names, due to the frequency of tissue typing they may have to conduct. 

“We don’t know any of the people on the wait list personally, but it’s surprising how attached we all get to people that have been waiting for years for the right donor,” says Fiona.

“Everyone here that I work with really feels a passion for what they do. I think what we do, and the outcomes we’re involved in, really touch us.”

The podcast is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.