DonateLife Week: Daughter of Geelong mum Robyn Powell who died while waiting for lung transplant pleads for more organ donors

Robyn Powell’s time on the lung transplant waiting list has been marked by nothing but ‘excitement’.

“There was no fear or sadness,” said her daughter, Jessie. “I couldn’t understand how she could be so positive. But the thought of getting new lungs passed her by.

It made the situation even more upsetting when, after several months of waiting, Robyn’s doctors deemed her too ill to receive the new set of lungs she desperately needed.

Geelong mother-of-two Victoria died in February 2019 aged 60 – around a year after joining the waiting list.

Sharing her story on the final day of DonateLife Week to encourage Australians to register as organ and tissue donors, Jessie describes the day she, her father John and younger brother Liam learned that Robyn would not be receiving no transplant as “the most devastating day ever”. “.

“We just knew that was it,” said the 30-year-old.

“It was palliative care after that time, all hope had been lost.”

Robyn had been sick for most of Jessie’s life, but she wasn’t diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease, until about three years before her death. She also had non-cancerous nodules on her lungs which severely affected her ability to breathe.

“Towards the end, Mom was bedridden and on oxygen 24/7,” Jessie said.

“He was a very sociable and outgoing person, so it was very difficult.”

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Learning that her mother would die if she didn’t get new lungs was also difficult.

“It’s quite shocking to learn that someone else has to die for your parent to live,” Jessie said.

“But one of the nurses explained that means someone else is not dying in vain. They are potentially helping so many people.

An organ donor can save up to seven lives and help many more through eye and tissue donation.

Jessie said the loss of her beloved mother as she lingered on the transplant waiting list led her to be ‘very vocal’ about the importance of saving a minute for herself. register as a donor.

“It’s such a quick and easy thing to do, and a lot of people don’t realize how many people it could help,” she said.

“I’ve made sure all my friends and family are signed up. It’s so empowering to know that you’ve made a decision that if, God forbid, something happens to you, it won’t be in vain.

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Jessie also carries on her mother’s spirit.

“He was a real gun, the happiest, funniest person,” she said.

“She loved so hard and always put others before herself, no matter how bad she felt.

“It makes me so proud to be his daughter and to carry on his positivity and love of life.”


-Anyone aged 16 and over can register as a donor, you are never too old or in poor health

-Donor bodies are treated with dignity and respect so families can still have open-air viewings

– All major religions in Australia support donations

-You can only register via your South African driving license – elsewhere you can do so via, the Medicare app or the MyGov website

– Registration only takes a minute

-A donor can save up to seven lives and help many more through eye and tissue donation

– Around 1,750 Australians are on the waiting list for an immediate organ transplant

-A third of Australians aged 16 and over are registered to be donors. If this were increased by half, around 200 more Australians would receive a transplant every year