It was beers around a campfire that led to cop-turned-farmer Mal Burdett becoming an advocate for organ donation.
On Friday, like the past three years on August 31, he is taking part in Jersey Day raising awareness of The Organ and Tissue Authority and Donate Life in memory of 13-year-old Nathan Gremmo.
Mr Burdett met Nathan’s uncle in 2016 and was inspired by the family’s story.
“We were on a central Australia camping trip and me and him were around the same age, and we clicked,” he said.
“I asked if there was anything I could do to help and he asked me to push it in my area, because it’s about spreading the message around Australia.”
Nathan, who enjoyed rugby league, was hit by a car and killed near Sydney in 2015, and his decision to be an organ donor saved the lives of five teenagers and a baby.
People are asked to wear a jersey to school or work in Nathan’s memory on August 31 and start conversations about organ donation.
As a Wodonga police officer for a number of years, Mr Burdett knows how highly emotional it can be for people when loved ones pass away and said it was integral conversations were had regularly about organ donation.
“This decision has to be made pretty quickly, so if the family can say they had the discussion, it can be vetoed,” he said.
“We want people to discover, decide and discuss, and if people decide it’s not for them so be it, at least they’ve considered it.
“A lot of people used to think they can just tick a box on their licence, but that’s not the case anymore.”
Jersey Day featured on the Marngrook Footy Show on Wednesday night and locally Corcoran Parker, Hutcheon and Pearce, Poolwerx, Albury Travel, Trinity Anglican College, and Landmark Normac Baranduda have supported the cause.
Mr Burdett said awareness was growing about organ donation.
“It’s something we can all do for nothing – the more people talk about it and discuss it, the better,” he said.
Statistics show in 90 per cent of cases where a donor is registered, the family consents, but that drops to 48 per cent when a donor is not registered and their family doesn’t know of their decision.
Visit jerseyday.com.au for more information
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here