BENDIGO boy Archer Irwin was only seven years old when he needed a life-saving liver transplant.
The operation had been years in the making after Archer was diagnosed with Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency - a rare genetic condition affecting his liver and lungs - when he was three months old.
His mum Nikki Irwin said Archer spent many years suffering before his health deteriorated even further in 2018 when he had life-threatening bleed.
He was placed onto the state's transplant list that year, before he was hospitalised in March 2019 with sepsis.
"There were a couple of times we almost lost him," Mrs Irwin said. "He deteriorated quite quickly."
Mrs Irwin said receiving the call that Archer was a back-up transplant recipient to a sicker child left her speechless.
"We prepare in our heads for what that call will be like, but you don't know until it happens," she said. "I was completely numb.
"You have a bit of hope that he will make it overnight to be the one receiving the transplant.
"But you're also thinking of the family who is going through the toughest of times. It's an extremely emotional time."
Mrs Irwin said Archer went into surgery for the transplant the next day and, nine hours later, he had a new liver.
"My first words when we could see him was that he wasn't yellow anymore," she said. "He was beautiful and pink with the whitest eyes I've seen.
"He was just amazing. It's weird the things you're happy to see."
Two years on, Mrs Irwin said Archer was healthy and thriving.
"Without his donor, we wouldn't have had Archer here with us today," she said. "We wouldn't have gone on to accomplish all of his firsts.
"To have him in our lives is just the most amazing thing. We will always be forever grateful to our donor family.
"We think and speak of them often. They will always be part of our family. We thank them for the big and small things that Archer can achieve because of them."
This week is DonateLife Week - a time to encourage Australians to register as organ and tissue donors.
There are currently 1800 Australians on the transplant waiting list, while an additional 12,000 people are on dialysis for kidney failure.
In 2020, there were 1040 people in Greater Bendigo who registered to be an organ donor.
Mrs Irwin encouraged people to have that conversation and get registered.
"People are stuck at home and can't go anywhere," she said. "It's the perfect opportunity to have those conversations.
"Tell your family and friends of your intentions, whether that's if you do or don't want to be an organ donor.
"In Australia, even if you're registered, it's your family that has the last say. So it's really important that you have that conversation."
Archer also had a message for those who had already registered.
"Thank you to everyone who has donated," he said. "You are saving lives."
Anyone above the age of 16 can register to be an organ donor in Australia. To register, or learn more information, visit donatelife.gov.au
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