Robert Little: Organ Transplant | A Patient Story Introduction
Well, I’ve been recently involved in ShareLife, which is focused on organ transplants. It’s a not-for-profit organization and it’s sobering to learn that, well his house this piston some statistics that there are 8 million people in Australia from a population of 24- 25 million who have registered as organ donors. So that’s about a third of the population. Now 160,000 Australians die every year from various causes. So you would imagine that for a third of those who would tick the box that organ transplants were available, there’d be organ transplants abundantly available. And when you consider that organ transplantation has a very high success rate, I mean, it obviously does vary according to the health of the person who is receiving that transplant, and obviously, that health is compromised, otherwise, they wouldn’t be receiving it. But there are all sorts of shades of grey, even within that cohort.
Well, organ transplantation is a topic. And at the end of this podcast, I’m going to, in the show notes, have a quiz for you to, which we’ve referenced in a previous podcast. But I’ll put it out there again for you to look at and test your knowledge of how our organ transplantation fares in Australia. But today it’s a patient story and that patient or person is an individual’s story from Robert Little. And Robert was born with a congenital kidney problem and had his own experience with organ transplantations. And look, I’m not going to spoil the story. It’s quite a compelling one and certainly an eye-opener for what people with kidney dysfunction have to go through. I mean, I learnt a great deal from my discussion with Robert. I hope you do too. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Robert Little.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Unstress. My name is Dr Ron Ehrlich. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I am recording this podcast, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their Elders – past, present, and emerging. I’d also like to pay my respects to what First Nations people have taught us in terms of connection and respect. A very big focus of this podcast and something I think we all can learn from.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:00:34] Well, I’ve been recently involved in ShareLife, which is focused on organ transplants. It’s a not-for-profit organization and it’s sobering to learn that, well his house this piston some statistics that there are 8 million people in Australia from a population of 24- 25 million who have registered as organ donors. So that’s about a third of the population. Now 160,000 Australians die every year from various causes.
So you would imagine that for a third of those who would tick the box that organ transplants were available, there’d be organ transplants abundantly available. And when you consider that organ transplantation has a very high success rate, I mean, it obviously does vary according to the health of the person who is receiving that transplant, and obviously, that health is compromised, otherwise, they wouldn’t be receiving it. But there are all sorts of shades of grey, even within that cohort.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:01:40] Well, organ transplantation is a topic. And at the end of this podcast, I’m going to, in the show notes, have a quiz for you to, which we’ve referenced in a previous podcast. But I’ll put it out there again for you to look at and test your knowledge of how our organ transplantation fares in Australia. But today it’s a patient story and that patient or person is an individual’s story from Robert Little.
And Robert was born with a congenital kidney problem and had his own experience with organ transplantations. And look, I’m not going to spoil the story. It’s quite a compelling one and certainly an eye-opener for what people with kidney dysfunction have to go through. I mean, I learnt a great deal from my discussion with Robert. I hope you do too. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Robert Little.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:02:37] Welcome to the show, Robert.
Robert Little: [00:02:39] Thanks, Ron. Thanks for having me.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:02:42] Robert. We’ve done a program on ShareLife and that’s part of what I’m involved with now with Marvin Weinman in Outcomes Australia and you have quite a compelling tale to tell on this issue. I wondered if you might just share with our listeners your story.
Robert Little: [00:02:58] Yeah, well, I’ll start with the potted version. I was born with a condition called posterior urethral valves, which meant that my bladder filled up with urine, and then that pretty much destroyed my kidneys. But they did get me through to the age of 12, and I started what’s called peritoneal dialysis, where fluid is drained into your peritoneum and that creates is able to filter your blood. Quite smart, quite complex.
And then I got a kidney from my mother at 14 and that lasted until I was about 22. Eight years. And then I went back on dialysis and this time it was on a thing called hemodialysis where you get access into your veins, in your arteries. And that’s probably what people may have seen people on machines. And so that transplant lasted ten years from about 29 until 39, and then that failed as well.
Robert Little: [00:03:52] So let me go back a step. Mum was from 14 to 22. My apologies. Back to dialysis. So on dialysis again for seven years when I was 29, then I got a kidney from Dad which lasted ten years until I was 39, and back on hemodialysis for another three years, approximately to 42, and I can’t thank them enough, but I got a deceased donor kidney in 2016 and I’m now six years later and that kidney is going strong. So that’s the short version if you like.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:04:28] Wow. Wow. Firstly, I didn’t realize. Well, there were so many different forms of dialysis. Peritoneal. I mean, you know, as a child, what was involved in that?
Robert Little: [00:04:40] So it’s what’s called a bag change, which I did three times a day. So you’d it’s kind of best to start off overnight. You’d drain a bag in, say, at last before you go to sleep. And then when I wake up, I drain that bag out. And that will have essentially taken all the impurities out of my blood and the extra fluid in my blood because I wasn’t urinating.
And so I do a bag change in the morning and then I do one straight after school and then another bag change as I started with what would be done lasting at night. And, you know, there were issues around. One of the main issues with kidney failure is you’ve got a lot of fluid sitting in your body because you can’t get rid of it. So one of the big issues is your heart and your blood pressure.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:05:27] Yeah. Wow. And I mean, this is from birth more or less. And so…
Robert Little: [00:05:33] Absolutely.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:05:36] There were some real challenges growing up as a young… I mean, I’m surrounded by my grandchildren of varying ages, up to seven years old from birth. And the thought of them being, you know, that that procedure having to be undertaken is a huge undertaking, isn’t it?
Robert Little: [00:05:53] Yeah. And I mean, prior to that, I’d had enormous amounts of surgery. People who may be listening, who have a medical background, might now have re-implanting ureters and all kinds of surgery to try and I guess, get my internal plumbing somehow back to normal. But it just wasn’t going to happen. So.
But I think and we might touch on this later is that it’s just I mean, I used to walk up to a friend’s house holding my bag like this above my head, draining in after school just so I could get to his house quicker and play. Basically, I remember doing that and I think I mean, I’m sure it stressed my mother inwardly and father, but they didn’t really show it and it was just a thing to get on with.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:06:39] Yeah.
Robert Little: [00:06:39] And I guess when you’re born with something, people always say to me, “How do you feel if you hadn’t had kidney failure and everything?” And I guess it’s like asking someone who’s wearing glasses if they wore them from a young age. I mean, I know no different. I feel sorry for people who are much older and start dialysis and they’re not used to that level of medical intervention if you like.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:07:03] So that first implant came at, what, 14 you said?
Robert Little: [00:07:06] Yes, yep.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:07:07] 14. And that must have been a total liberation for you.
Robert Little: [00:07:13] Yes. Yes, it was.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:07:15] I’m wondering if you have been interesting to tell us how you felt when, you know, I guess you no longer had to carry this bag around with you.
Robert Little: [00:07:23] Yeah, I felt Uhm… it’s hard to think back, but I mean, it was great. It was very freeing. I could go on, you know, I could travel, which I guess I hadn’t really thought of much at 14, but when I was 16, 17 I traveled to Japan and I think that it is hard to think back to then, but it was, I guess I felt normal again if you like.
And yeah, I think that I do actually remember saying to a friend, “Oh well I’ll never have to have surgery again.” Famous last words. But I guess thinking back to my mindset, I kind of felt like kidney failure is done and dusted as a slightly ignorant 14-year-old, I guess. And I’ve got the kidney now and everything will be fine. And, you know. I don’t need to think about medical things anymore. Life turned out different than that. But I just remember. It’s like a weight off your mind, I guess.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:08:25] Yeah, but that freed you up from this peritoneal bag connected to dialysis and you had your kidney transplant. But, of course, when you get a kidney transplant, it comes with some… You need to be taking medications as well. Tell us a little bit about that.
Robert Little: [00:08:43] Well, and the medications for me actually haven’t changed that much over 30-plus years. But essentially, basically, you’re on three types of immunosuppressant, which, as the name suggests, suppresses your immune system.
The kidneys also regulate things like phosphate, and they regulate that bone formation. And essentially, one of the big things that I forgot to say is because it wasn’t so well known when I was 14, I actually was walking with my knees banging each other from rickets that my bones had become so weak.
And there was some talk of having to break my legs to straighten them. But once I got the kidney at 14, I guess I had some growing, more growing to do. My legs essentially straightened out so that as I think back, that was a big thing because I did get teased quite a bit for walking with not knees if you like, but essentially it’s the immunosuppressants that create a lot of issues.
Robert Little: [00:09:45] So, unfortunately, I was going through acne at the time and of course, we know that acne creates bacteria on the skin. I got very bad cystic acne and I would put that down to A. Puberty, which could happen to anyone. And of course not having an immune system to actually even vaguely clear up my skin. So that was something I remember.
And in later years with later transplants, I’ve gotten a lot of them because of my really bad bladder, urinary tract infections, which come, and of course, in a normal person you might say it’s a low level of bacteria and I could fight that or a normal person could, but I can’t.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:10:25] Yeah, but you mentioned, you know, you thought you had a kidney transplant and it was done and dusted and all was good. And that’s actually the point at which I think I am aware of what goes on because I think great, you’ve got a kidney transplant. Okay. You taking medications which come with challenges. Yeah. But you know, the fact that kidney transplants have a life of their own. Tell us about that.
Robert Little: [00:10:50] Well, I mean, it’s it really is how long is a piece of string. Some kidneys can fail in the first year, although I think the figures are about 91% of kidneys will get through the first year and then I think it’s in the seventies for five years. But essentially what I’d like people to know is that a transplant is just another form of treatment. It’s not the be-all and end-all.
And people might have an existing condition that might be affected their natural kidneys that will then start affecting their transplanted kidney, one that I can think of from a friend and I don’t know the details of, but lupus is one of them. And also there are people who get big cysts on their kidneys. And that will, just as it is affected, their natural kidneys will affect their transplanted kidney.
Robert Little: [00:11:42] In my case, as I’ve mentioned, a lot of infections. It was a lot of antibiotics, some of which are nephrotoxic, and toxic to the kidney, that slowly is chipping away at the function of the kidney. And so, you know, I mean, how long is a piece of string? I know people probably would have read, but people who have had transplants, kidney transplants for 20 or 30 years, and other people unfortunately go, you know, there’s fails after a year. Some people, they fail on the table and they wake up and they actually don’t have a transplanted kidney. That’s pretty rare. But yeah, it can happen.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:12:20] I’m guessing considered, you know, most I think most people’s kidneys would develop over their lives and then kidney failure comes about and that. But you were behind the eight ball right from the work.
Robert Little: [00:12:32] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, a lot of people, you know, very elderly people will get kidney failure. And that may be something, you know, if you knew your eighties and nineties, I don’t think you want to do dialysis, particularly because it’s not a great life. I’ve seen people who are, you know, in their eighties doing dialysis and it’s pretty much their staying alive to go on a machine three times a week. And it’s pretty sad.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:12:56] Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, I was going to ask you about that because you mentioned peritoneal dialysis with your bag as a young child. But the other is hemodialysis, and that’s the one that most people will have heard about and be familiar with.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:13:10] Can you just share with us what a week in the life of a person on dialysis is like?
Robert Little: [00:13:16] Yeah. I mean, well, I can share what this person’s week is like.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:13:20] Yeah. Yeah. Okay.
Robert Little: [00:13:21] So I used to dialyze Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays and I would dialyze after work and I’d be on the machine, let’s say, between four and 5 hours. So basically you would let’s say we finished work on Monday, I would drive to the dialysis center that I was dialyzing at and people do it at home or they go to my center was called a satellite so it wasn’t really a hospital, but it was attached.
It was a street away from the hospital and depending on your dialysis center, the machine might already be set up for you or you may have been trained as I was in setting up your own machine. And you would then basically either have a nurse put your needles in or you’d put your own needles in and you’d have one needle with arterial blood and one needle with venous blood, and it would essentially go through the machine, be cleaned, the water would come off your blood, and it returned to your body.
Robert Little: [00:14:17] And I heard someone and this is the line I’ve always used. And I think it’s fair that going on dialysis for 5 hours or so is like running a marathon. Not, of course, in terms of running a marathon, but in terms of the stresses on your body. Because if you can imagine, just your veins and your arteries are swelled like this because of blood in them.
And then they come down like this. And you’ve got to be very careful because if you do that too quickly or take off too much fluid too quickly, you can pass out because of the drop in blood pressure. So, I mean, these days, it’s pretty easy. And people, you know, it’s well known, it’s well studied. But nevertheless, it’s still quite a complex intervention in the human body.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:15:00] Yeah. But do you have a line in continuous line in or do you actually go through venipuncture?
Robert Little: [00:15:08] Yes.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:15:08] And those… are every single time.
Robert Little: [00:15:10] I don’t know if people can see it, but I’m probably not. Yeah. But, basically, I have a whether I can see it or not, it’s a vein joined to an artery and then I had what’s called a loop of Goretex connecting the vein and the artery. So I had a lot of places to put needles and I have one of those in each of my legs as well because essentially access is important.
A lot of people will have what’s called a fistula. I didn’t. That’s where it’s a natural joining of your vein in your artery. And when you first start dialysis, if you haven’t had the operation to have the access put in, you’ll probably have a central line in your neck and they’ll do it through the central line. So you can imagine that access to hemodialysis is very important. And of course, if you can’t find that access, someone will most probably do peritoneal dialysis.
Robert Little: [00:16:04] And just on that quickly peritoneal dialysis, which is done and I haven’t done it obviously for a great many years, but it’s done, as you heard from me, three times a day. It’s actually smoother dialysis because you’re clearing out your blood and the fluid in your blood three times a day.
And if that works for your lifestyle, I think that’s the way to go. But for me, finishing work dialyzing not sleeping too well because that’s how you feel after dialysis. You kind of feel very tired, but also very awake at the same time. And I think it’s because you’ve had always basically poison taken out of your blood and you feel really awake. So and then, you know, what I’d have to do through that week is watch my fluid, because the more fluid you put on, the more you have to take off, the more pressure on your heart.
Just do it all again on Wednesday and then do it all again on Friday night. And then we used I called it no, everyone called you Friday to Monday or other people would dialyze different days. But that was my big break where I really had to watch my fluid because obviously, an extra day was in there. So I tried to keep to less than a liter of fluid a day.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:17:13] Mm hmm. Yeah. And then, I mean, you had the kidney, and at 22, things must have started to be going not right.
Robert Little: [00:17:22] Yes. Yep.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:17:22] And then you kind of be told, “Robert, we’re back on dialysis. This kidney has reached a point.” And then you’re waiting for another seven years. Well, actually, first your mum and then your dad.
Robert Little: [00:17:36] Yep.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:17:36] Was it the other way around?
Robert Little: [00:17:37] Mum’s was at 14. Dad’s was at 29. Yep.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:17:40] Wow. Wow. And that that then was again a new liberation.
Robert Little: [00:17:46] Absolutely. Yeah.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:17:47] But even in that in-between period, are you still on these immunosuppressant drugs? Because you’ve still got the old kidney?
Robert Little: [00:17:53] No, I wasn’t. And what can happen, it didn’t happen to me, thankfully, is your body can attack. Some people will have to have their transplanted kidney taken out because they might get an infection from that. I didn’t. Right.
And essentially, they become, if you like, dead pieces of meat, as horrible as that sounds inside you. And that’s the situation I was in. And weirdly or not weirdly. But when they and your kidneys are put down in your I think it’s called iliac fossa, basically the space just above your groin kind of in your body. And so I had mum’s on one side and dad’s on the other.
And when I got my third transplant, they had to kind of take out half of dad’s to fit number three in. And it was a very long surgery. It was, I think it was at least 10 hours. And then they actually had to dialyze me in the middle of it. So if I remember correctly, they hadn’t had to do that for a long time. Yeah.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:18:51] Wow. So tell me. With these immunosuppressants and with the kidney, it must be a very delicate balancing act, too, particularly given the amount of immunosuppressants and antibiotics that you’re taking. You know, we talk about the gut microbiome as being critical. What makes what did you find made your health better? And what are some of the things that made it worse? Why don’t we start with, you know, how did you improve your health? To kind of stay on top.
Robert Little: [00:19:25] I think the first thing I’d like to share is an anecdote that comes from when I was dialyzing as a child. And I think that you know, your podcast is called Unstress and this I think is an amazing, you know, story. And I’m into, nerd alert, I’m into carnivorous plants and I’m going to do a quick plug, @flesheatingflora, one word on Instagram for anyone who wants to see pictures of my plants.
But I used to go out to my and I’ve described how fluid sits in your blood and that increases your blood pressure. And I would go out sometimes before changing a bag when I was a kid and before I had my blood pressure done. And I’d just sit with my plants and I didn’t know I was, you know, I wasn’t doing it because I thought this will de-stress me. It’s just what I did.
And it would be amazing that if I’d done that, my blood pressure, which, you know, statistically from previous blood pressures at that time, needing that bag change would have been high. It actually would have been, I won’t say normal, but much less elevated than normal. And, you know, that’s one thing I guess nowadays it’d be called mindfulness or meditativeness. Um, but certainly that’s my hobby and that’s quite calming and…
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:20:42] It’s also a connection with nature, Robert.
Robert Little: [00:20:44] Yeah. Yes, absolutely.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:20:45] And that has a profound impact on people’s health and stress levels, too.
Robert Little: [00:20:51] And I think that I guess I’d never really been a sporty person, but I actually started some boxing when I had a transplant with just a friend and that went away. And then I got a personal trainer while I was dialyzing because you have to be quite fit to actually go through a transplant so the fitter you can be, the better. And that personal trainer didn’t just do boxing.
She did all, you know, burpees, which I hate, all kinds of weight-bearing exercises and exercises with weights. And I really was pretty fit for what I’d gone through at the age of 39 when I got that transplant. So a little shout-out to Emily Milford for doing that for me. And after that, a friend of mine said to me, Why don’t you come along to my karate class? And I was like, I don’t think I’ve ever hit anyone in anger. I’ve been hitting in anger and I went along and I really liked it. And I now have a green belt in karate.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:21:50] Wow. Yeah.
Robert Little: [00:21:52] Which I never thought. Had you spoken to the kind of nerdy guy who wasn’t allowed to do sports at school? And then, you know, what can I say? Such good friends, such good family. And I think also that I really think that dialysis because it can be such a long haul. It’s the mental health stuff side of things.
And unfortunately, I’ve known people on dialysis who have committed suicide because they just couldn’t handle living on a machine. And that’s separate to and you know, that separate to you may decide not to dialyze. And that is a medical decision as you might decide any other medical decision. But I’m talking about people who actually decided to take their lives. And it’s just, you know, it’s a long haul. And a lot of people don’t know about being on dialysis and waiting for a transplant.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:22:45] Hmm. Yeah. Hmm. And what would advice would you give to a person who was being confronted with dialysis and say, look, this is a challenge. This is what I would do. What would you say to them?
Robert Little: [00:22:57] Look. This is my mindset. And other people may not have the same mindset, but I and it’s probably because it was from such a young age, I knew what all my medications did and was supposed to do. I used to put in my own needles. And that’s because I believed when you’re focussing on trying to get a needle in. Right, it doesn’t hurt as much. And I really believe that.
And I think just being aware and I guess also talking to people and if you’re dialyzing n a situation where you have other dialysis patients around you, I would call them my dialysis mates from when I dialyzed I’ve caught up with them once in the last seven years. But it’s like you’ve gone, you know, with respect to veterans out there, it’s like you’ve gone through a war together and you never forget, you know, having to put needles in or having them go wrong or whatever.
Robert Little: [00:23:46] And I think also you have to tell yourself that this is the way it is now. You can’t you just cannot fight it. Your kidneys are failing. They’re not coming back. Except if you’re on acute dialysis because something’s happened to you.
But I’m talking about chronic disease here, and you really have to, unfortunately, the thing is, you’ve got to essentially put your life around your dialysis. But weirdly and I don’t know if this is just my mindset in those breaks, I could almost forget I was on dialysis. I’d be like, I get to 5:00 on a Monday or Wednesday, or Friday. Oh, Jesus, I’ve got to go to dialysis. And I’d probably be engrossed in work and I would have almost, almost forgotten.
Robert Little: [00:24:28] So, you know, I think the thing is to get support, which is probably more available than when I was a child. Talk to people, but know your medications and know your body. Because if you a lot of times if you go to emergency, they’re not 100% sure how dialysis and everything work because they’re not specialists on dialysis there. So be aware of what medication and these days it’s great. You can just put notes in your phone and you can show that to the doctor and say, you know, take that away, take a photo or write it down and they’ll get everything that they need.
Robert Little: [00:25:00] And, you know, I’ll segway, if you like, into if you are on the transplant list because not everyone who’s on dialysis makes it onto the transplant list. And I can really only speak to the last time I was waiting in terms of my thinking, but as I’ve discussed, I had my mother’s antibodies circulating in my blood and my father’s antibodies circulating in my blood. And it’s an antibody match that’s most important.
And I really thought with that level of antibodies in my blood that I probably wouldn’t get a kidney. And of course, I still thought I would and hoped I would. But actually, in my mind, I was like, if that happens, I’ve really won the lottery. And I think that you cannot stress about getting the kidney. You’ve got to put that to one side because as you probably heard from Marvin and ShareLife, some people have a long wait. Some people don’t.
I think I was amazingly lucky as one individual that even though I was on dialysis for three years, I was only got on the list after the first year because I had a blood clot in my leg it only took two years and I got the call. And but I certainly made a conscious decision not to worry, apart from being notifiable about getting a kidney, because I really had convinced myself I wasn’t going to get one and I had to make the best of this life that I had. And what can I say? I was very lucky.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:26:31] Were you on a list prior to your mother donating her kidney? You were. And similarly, again, with your father as well.
Robert Little: [00:26:40] Absolutely. And I think and I know this is a nuance, but it’s not really a list, because if a kidney comes up and it suits the antibodies of someone who’s been on dialysis a month, as opposed to someone who’s been on dialysis five years, it’s not as though the kidney goes to the five-year person.
It’ll go to the month-person because it’s about a match. And people have asked me the question, where are you on the list? And I’m like, Well, that’s not really how it works. It’s about a match. I mean, of course, we call it the waiting list and it is if you like it that way. It is, but yeah.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:27:15] But finding that match is the key to the whole thing. And of course, the more matches that were available. Of course. So what do you know of your donor?
Robert Little: [00:27:28] God, I hope I don’t tear up here. Through DonateLife, which is essentially the organ donation and transplant arm of the federal government, if you like. You’re able to write to your donor family and you’re not at this stage to put any detail in like your city or anything like that. It has to be kept at that kind of arm’s length. And I got a letter back from my donor’s family.
And it was the mother and father of I think she was roughly 40 years old lady who had I’m trying to remember back here, but my understanding is I think she basically just dropped dead in the kitchen and had I think it was a stroke or a brain bleed or something like that. Apart from that, I knew that she had two daughters, which, you know, it’s…
And after I heard that, I used to see mothers with their two daughters. And it would just I don’t know, it just really kind of hurt, if you like. And there’s that part of your brain that you have to remind yourself that you didn’t kill them. You actually just got the benefit of the fact that they passed away and you know, and there’s not much you can say in a letter like that other than thank you. Yeah.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:28:52] Yes. Yes. And that is of some comfort to a family to know that through the tragedy of loss, a life has been improved or even saved.
Robert Little: [00:29:06] Absolutely, yeah.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:29:08] Yeah. Wow, wow. Gee, Robert, what a story. What a life. And it’s good to see you there. And well thank you so much for sharing that story with us tonight. And I think for, you know, for people who are considering well, many people have ticked the box. This is part of the challenge. You know, I think we have 25 million people in Australia. I think 8 million people have ticked the box about donation. But that doesn’t necessarily mean…
Robert Little: [00:29:46] No, it doesn’t. And I mean, obviously, Marvin, you talk to ShareLife and the work that ShareLife is doing, which at times I’ve been a bit involved with on the periphery. They’re trying to get, I guess, a system more like, well, Spain is one example and I think it’s the behind-the-scenes work that once the box is ticked and I can give a… I’ve heard at least two stories where someone’s loved one passed away and they essentially had to bang the table to say, we want to donate our loved ones’ organs.
And I think that you know, with great respect to all those doctors and systems that have saved my life, just needs to be a little bit better joining up with, you know, people having the right conversation with relatives and knowing when someone’s in the ICU and is at that stage where they will be able to donate organs.
And it’s really important that that conversation be had in the most respectful of ways. And, you know, that’s the kind of training that is definitely in Australia and I think they’re getting better. But there’s a, you know, Marvin could speak better to this as he probably did. There are just a few things that need to be if you like, some dots that need to be joined a little better. But yeah.
Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:31:04] Yeah. Well, as I said, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today.
Robert Little: [00:31:09] No, thank YOU.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:31:11] Well, there it is. I mean, peritoneal dialysis, was whole new experience or a bit of knowledge for me. Kidney dialysis, you know, there’s a whole other story as well and one person’s individual story about three implants in their lives. And Rob is still in his late forties. So. Oh, well, I think he’s 47. That’s not that late. But anyway, he’s in his forties and so I thought it would be interesting to share that story with you.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:31:41] Now, I mentioned there was a quiz shelf quiz. Remember I said to you, 8 million Australians have ticked the box. You may be one of them. I know I was. I have been on my lot on my driver’s license and my medical records is that I am an organ donor. So that’s about a third of the Australian population have offered their organ for transplantation while they’re on their death.
And when you consider 160,000 Australians die every year, that would put the figure around just over. 50,000 organ donations were available. So it’s interesting to consider how many actually organ transplants there are. So how many people are on the waiting list? That’s another interesting question.
So I invite you to visit the show notes and go and do the quiz and see how you go. Because ShareLife is very much about improving our organ transplant record in Australia and making us and taking us to become world leaders and do the quiz and find out how close we are to fulfilling that goal. I hope this finds you well. Until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be well.
This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. This content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.