ROBYN Hookes understands the topic of organ donation is difficult for families to approach, but hopes a cricket match in Bendigo on Sunday will help to raise awareness of its importance.
Eaglehawk’s Canterbury Park will host a 30-over-a-side game between the Australian Transplant Cricket Club and a DonateLife Everyday Heroes team.
The organ donation awareness game will launch DonateLife Week in Victoria and has attracted players including Australian Test batsman Rob Quiney, young Victorian all-rounder Alex Keath, former Australian bowler Tony Dodemaide and Tim Mathieson, the partner of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The two teams will be playing for the Robyn Hookes Shield.
Robyn is the widow of former Australian batsman and Victorian coach David Hookes, who had his organs donated after his death in January, 2004, from head injuries sustained in an altercation outside a St Kilda hotel.
Robyn has since become a patron of the Australian Transplant Cricket Club and is a director of the David Hookes Foundation, which was established to inspire more Australians to register as organ donors and encourage them to discuss the important decision with family and friends.
“Our message is always the same, it’s just that we need to get it out to as many people in the community as we can,” Robyn told the Bendigo Advertiser this week.
“It’s about getting people to talk about organ donation and how they feel about it. It’s about letting your family know how you feel about it, and in turn you knowing how your family feels about it.
“The reality of it is that life is such that you don’t know who is going to go first... in David’s case he was 48 at the time he died in circumstances that were a violent tragedy.
“It’s not an attractive topic, but we’re about raising awareness, which is what we’ve been doing from the word go with the David Hookes Foundation right through to these boys with the Australian Transplant Cricket Club, who I have seen be able to get out on the field and play cricket thanks to donor families.
“It has been nine years since David, who was such a larger than life character, died, but it’s just about continuing to keep the message out there that at any time your life can go in an instant from being normal to a very different scenario, and what you would do if you were put in that situation?
“So this game is all about raising awareness about what you would do if you were in that situation and what would a member of your family want done.”
Robyn says she is humbled, but also embarrassed, that the two teams will be playing on Sunday for a shield in her honour.
“I would like to think the shield is symbolic of every donor family who was put in a situation as I was with their loved one on a ventilator and being asked that question about organ donation,” Robyn said.
“For any donor family that has been put in that position, it’s an incredible position and I look at other families who have been in that situation and think of what courage they’ve had under such duress.”
Helping Robyn through her decision to donate David’s organs was that the family had previously discussed the topic.
“David had the discussion with us so many times as a family right from when our kids were in their early teens in Adelaide,” Robyn said.
“I used to hate the discussion and didn’t like talking about it, but I’m so glad we did because I honestly don’t know if my answer when confronted with the situation when David died would have been the same.”
Ten people were recipients of David’s organs and Robyn has since received several letters from those who were helped by the donation.
“Those people were a lot younger than David. His eyes, for example, as I donated his corneas, helped to give sight to a four-year-old girl who had been blind from birth and a teenage boy,” Robyn said.
“That in itself is amazing, so no matter who you are, if you have someone in your family who needs a lifesaving organ or something else, such as sight, you’d want everyone who was able to donate to do so.”
Sunday’s game starts at 9.30am, with free entry, giveaways and children’s entertainment.