IT’S been a long 12 months for veteran Rural Fire Service volunteer Stuart Clarke, who is waiting on a kidney transplant.
In the meantime, he spends five hours a day, three days a week on dialysis at Orange Health Service while he waits for a match from an organ donor.
He is calling on Orange residents to talk with their families about organ donation.
“Yeah, I would really encourage people to sign up,” he said.
“The first 12 months [after diagnosis] were really hard.
“But I knew it’d take a while.”
Even though he has been waiting for a year, Mr Clarke is hopeful a match will come soon.
“I am a little bit nervous ... but you have to stay positive,” he said.
It has been a long journey for the family man who was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2010.
He weighed about 145 kilograms and could not be considered for an organ donation until he weighed under 100 kilograms.
The community rallied and raised more than $25,000 for Mr Clarke to undergo gastric banding surgery and the surgery, combined with quitting smoking and eating healthy, has left Mr Clarke about 65 kilograms lighter and “feeling great”.
An organ donation would mean Mr Clarke would not have to spend 15 hours a week on dialysis, but it would also mean he could remove the fistula in his arm that replaces some of his bodily functions.
“Well, I can’t wee anymore, I could probably wee again, that might get fixed up,” he said.
The fistula helps Mr Clarke function without healthy kidneys, but it is not without its problems.
Only on Thursday, Mr Clarke had to travel to Sydney to have stents put in to clear a blockage.
Despite his sickness the RFS volunteer of 20 years still finds plenty to do for the fire service.
For information on organ donation go to www.donatelife.gov.au/decide.