Eaglehawk resident Tim Attwater owes his life to tissue donation after it saved him years ago.
As part of DonateLife Victoria's recently launched Eye and Tissue Donation awareness campaign, Mr Attwater is encouraging his local community to register as organ and tissue donors on the Australian Organ Donor Register.
While tinkering in his shed one night in 2006, he was unaware a life-changing event lay ahead.
In a freak accident, heat from a potbelly stove caused a tin of paint thinners to explode in front of him, engulfing Mr Attwater in flames.
He has no memory of the ambulance trip to Bendigo Hospital, nor the helicopter flight to Melbourne's Alfred Hospital trauma centre.
It was here his wife learned her husband had sustained 85 per cent burns to his body and would have a slim chance of survival.
Incredibly - and thankfully - he survived.
He spent more than three months in an induced coma, during which he underwent around 60 surgeries, including skin grafts and skin transplantation all over his body, except for his face.
"I had 90 per cent of my surgery done in the coma and I cannot ever remember going to theatre," he said.
"I was told I had about 60 surgeries, skin transplants and skin grafts.
"When I first got to Melbourne, they got a load of spray-on skin from burns specialist Fiona Wood in Perth, which worked for a period until they got enough skin to keep me going."
He spent many months in hospital and in rehabilitation and wore a full protective body suit 23 hours a day.
Mr Attwater said he is forever grateful to the donors who registered their decision to donate skin tissue, and to the donor families that kindly consented to donation during their time of grief.
He knows, were it not for skin tissue donation, he may not be here.
"The way I see it is that someone lost a loved one, for my kids to have a loved one," Mr Attwater said.
"Thanks to those people who chose to donate their skin, my three boys have a dad, and I continue to have a life with my family."
Register to become an organ and tissue donor online at donatelife.gov.au or via the Express Plus Medicare App on your mobile phone.
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