Gifted with lifetime of love

MARRIED couple Claire and Ian Stubber didn't think they'd live past 20.

With grim diagnoses from doctors - who outlined a short lifespan for both Claire and Ian due to chronic diseases - only an organ transplant could prevent their fate. 

Ms Stubber, who was born with heart disease and three defects in her heart which caused her lungs to fail, noticed Mr Stubber as she arrived for her pre-transplant classes almost two decades ago. 

Blue fingertips a sign of past pain and brighter future

He had the same fingertips as her - blue and rounded - a noticeable sign of damaged lungs. 

Mr Stubber had cystic fibrosis and was awaiting a lung transplant to save his life.

"I'd finally met someone who was living like me and we talked and talked and talked," she said. 

"We found comfort in each other."

Their recovery was markedly different - Ms Stubber was in and out of hospital for three years, Mr Stubber spent 24 hours in the Intensive Care Unit and only returned to hospital three times. 

Throughout it all, Ms Stubber said nothing could compare with the pain before transplant. 

"I was told when I was a teenager that I was going to die," she said. 

"It's hard to explain when you haven't felt it but I could feel death approaching too and I knew something had to be done. 

I could feel death approaching and knew something had to be done. - Claire Stubber

"My parents were told to just go home and love me, but I told them something needed to be done or I wanted to die.

"I was hoping my mum would suggest transplant."

She travelled from Perth to Melbourne soon after to start the donation process. 

"Some people say the recovery and transplant itself can be overwhelming but I had been so sick and was looking for a solution - for something different - I didn't experience it as stressful," she said. 

"Nothing I experienced after transplant was as sad as before the transplant."

Now she is cycling across Victoria with her husband to take part in the Tour de Transplant and talk about organ donation to teenagers. 

"We've been given 35 years between us and I would like other people to get that chance," she said. 

"People must realise that even if you're registered, you still need to discuss your choice with loved ones because they can override your wishes at the last moment. 

"It's important to have that memorable discussion so they know."

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