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​THESE faces are very familiar around Footscray and Sunshine hospitals, but an important part of their life-saving role is largely unknown.

Together Sarah O’Connor, Alysia Panopoulos, Louise Watson and Dr Forbes McGain make the donation of organs and tissues possible at Western Health.

As Donation Specialist Nurse Coordinators, Sarah, Alysia and Louise coordinate all aspects of the donation process – from participating in end-of-life conversations, seeking consent for donation and supporting donors and their families, to arranging compatibility testing for organs and tissues and organising surgical staff for theatre.

And as a Medical Donation Specialist, anaesthetist and intensivist Dr McGain works to improve the culture and awareness around organ donation in the intensive care unit, and is an expert voice for the team.

“The most important part of our job is to support the donor and their families,” Ms O’Connor said.

“Everything we do is led by the families of the donors. We always respect their wishes, and what they think their loved ones would have wanted.”

Last year at Sunshine and Footscray hospitals, 11 very generous donors and their families saved or transformed the lives of 22 transplant recipients, and helped many more through tissue and corneal donation.

And this week, Western Health is once again supporting DonateLife Week.

Did you know only one in three Australians have joined the Australian Organ Donor Register?

Registration is important. Nine in 10 families agree to donation proceeding when the deceased registered their consent to become an organ and tissue donor. This drops to just 52% where the deceased was not registered and the family had no prior knowledge.

More than 1400 Australians are today on wait lists for a life-saving or life-transforming transplant. If you are willing to one day save lives by becoming an organ and tissue donor, please register and discuss your decision with your family and friends.

To register to become an organ and tissue donor, visit

It takes less than a minute. You just need your Medicare card.

Sarah O'Connor
Alysia Panopoulos

Louise Watson and Forbes McGain