My name is Lauren and I have been making chronic illness sexy since 1990.
Oh, and I had two weeks left to live.
It was at this time I was lucky enough to receive a double lung transplant, which saved my life.
Donate Life Australia are asking – what are you waiting for? (Post continues after video.)
So when Donate Life week comes up, I feel I have to tread a careful line between talking about the beauty of donation and how it saves lives, and the dark reality of Australia’s donation crisis and why we urgently need people to take time to think about registering as a donor.
Why am I afraid? Because there are so many awful things going on in this world, it is easy to just go on with life as is.
I’m also afraid that if you come into my world and see the weekly RIP’s on my Facebook newsfeed because organs have not been available in time, you might curl up and cry and never get out of your pyjamas. But that’s not good for the economy.
What I want you to know is that you have power to change this.
If you spend five minutes today telling your loved one about your choice in regards to organ and tissue donation and sign the registry, you are giving hope and support to thousands of Australians.
You are saying: 'I cherish life and if – God forbid – anything was to happen to me, I will pass it on'.
What’s it like waiting on the transplant list?
You could ask any of the 1500 Australians who are currently waiting, but they are probably too busy trying to keep themselves alive with doctor’s appointments and treatments.
So here is a little of my experience.
I started off with a surge of adrenaline, jumping every time I heard the phone ring.
After a few weeks, the reality set in as I was told I could be waiting up to two years when I had less than nine months left to live.
I was confined to a wheelchair with oxygen 24/7 and I felt my body deteriorating every day, but I didn’t give up hope until a few more months dragged by.
Every breath in was a challenge and the constant feeling of being on the verge of suffocation, along with all of the physical pain, was torture.
I couldn’t even dress myself and I tried to keep hope that someone would say yes in their time of grief.
More months rolled by and I couldn’t sit up without being exhausted.
I was ready. To die or try to live again with a gift of new lungs. It was in a stranger’s hands.
It has been six years since my transplant and it has been an amazing treatment by saving my life.
I have lived a life I only ever dreamed about as a child but unfortunately, my body rejected my lungs in 2014 and I have been left with less than a 30 per cent lung capacity.
My body may reject me, but according to Tinder the boys don’t. Actually that’s not true, they do.
I would like to say you can read about it in my new book, but all I have to offer is the weekly YouTube clips I make to remind everyone that, no matter what situation you are in, you are not alone.
I take this beautiful life a day at a time and I call it beautiful because no matter how beautifully draining life can be, I know I have received the greatest gift of all and with that it’s impossible to not see love in this world.
To register as an organ and tissue donor please visit medicareaustralia.gov.au.
Lauren Rowe is 26 years old and is the director and founder of the charity 'Gifted Life.' She regularly tells her story at schools and corporate gigs. Lauren was a semi-finalist for the Australians Womens Weekly's 'Women of the Future.'