1100 kilometres for 1100 recipients

The Bendigo Advertiser is continuing Courtney's Quest, with the aim of finding 1532 new organ donors in four weeks. 

A TEAM of organ donor recipients, nurses and donation ambassadors will cycle across the state to raise money and educate communities on the reality of organ donation. 

The Tour de Transplant will hit Bendigo this weekend, with 25 people visiting several regional Victorian towns to share stories and foster understanding. 

Heart and Lung Transplant vice president Louisa Walsh - an organ recipient herself - said recipients were faced with an overwhelming reality in the transplant aftermath, with the ride helping to raise money to ease the burden. 

All funds will go towards the Second Chance Accommodation Program - a place for heart and lung transplant patients to call home while they underwent organ donation. 

"It can be really expensive prospect because they have to stay near the Alfred Hospital for three months after the transplant and it can be tough," she said. 

"We currently have three subsidised rooms nearby to help with costs and pressures but we need eight to meet demand. 

"So transplant recipients, members of Victoria Police, transplant nurses and various corporate groups are taking part in the ride to raise money and host education sessions about organ and tissue donation."

The riders will travel 1100 kilometres to acknowledge 1100 Victorians who have received heart and lungs since transplants began at The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne in 1989. 

The nine-day trek, led by Australian cycling legend Phil Anderson, will take riders from Melbourne to Geelong, to Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, to the border at Albury, over the Victorian Alps to Gippsland before the final stretch back to Melbourne.

Ms Walsh said the route visited towns and communities that were home to many transplant beneficiaries. "The reality is that organ recipients think about our donors every day," she said. 

"That difficult decision is made in the middle of grief and while we don't know who these people are, we are just so grateful.

"Now we're doing what we can to educate the many communities who have been touched by organ donation."

For more information go to www.donatelife.gov.au, to register go to www.donorregister.gov.au

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