When Francesca Rourke receives a call about a loss of life, she knows this is an opportunity to save others. Over the coming hours, Francesca and the organ donation team from DonateLife Queensland will make an extraordinary 200 phone calls to find a match for the donated organs and make emergency flight arrangements to connect someone with the gift of life.
A specialist organ donor coordinator for DonateLife Queensland, part of the Federal Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority, Francesca relies on speed and efficiency at every step, including the air transport of her precious cargo. Over the past 16 years she has flown across the country countless times from BNE to retrieve organs, fulfilling the selfless wishes of donors and their families to save others’ lives.
It’s often the wee hours when Francesca and her organ donation team arrive at BNE. Whether retrieving or receiving an organ, time is of the essence. They have a short window of time to connect a donor organ with its recipient, which means DonateLife has priority access, even over the Premier, to the Queensland Government Air Wing Hawker and King Air. As soon as the jet is ready for take-off, BNE air traffic control ensures the highest priority flight path for the emergency journey.
“Flying with a donor organ and arriving into BNE in time to save a life is one of the biggest responsibilities I could have ever imagined,” Francesca said.
“It truly is a race against time to deliver a miracle to someone who has waited months or years for this moment.”
Francesca said her job reminds her every day of the generosity of the human spirit and the miracle that is life.
“I am always amazed at the strength and generosity of the donor families I have the privilege to meet and support through their donation journey,” she said.
“I remember one time we were returning to Brisbane from donation surgery in North Queensland, just as the sun was rising on Christmas morning. We talk about donation as the gift of life. On that morning it was impossible not to feel emotional because I knew we had delivered the best Christmas present anyone could ask for to the waiting recipients.”
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