Jasmine Storey was two years old when she received a liver transplant and more than two decades later she's headed to the World Transplant Games to raise awareness about organ donation.
Next year the Bundaberg resident will jet off to Perth to compete in the World Transplant Games, along with other athletes who all have one thing in common – they’ve all had a successful organ transplant.
Jasmine said the World Transplant Games was an amazing way to celebrate organ and tissue donation, along with 55 other countries, on the world stage.
She said being an organ transplant recipient had not only changed her life, but it also gave her life.
“It has given me life,” she said.
“I was born with a condition known as biliary atresia.
“It is a very rare condition, affecting only 1 in 15,000 infants, so I really don't know a life where I didn’t need a new liver.”
Although Jasmine was too young to remember the time before her liver transplant, she said she knew it was her only chance at surviving.
“I would have absolutely died,” she said.
“Even as it was, we were buying as much time as possible with smaller procedures and treating nasty infections.
“I was lucky to live as long as I did while waiting for the call that there was a donor match ready for me.”
It was touch and go as Jasmine and her family eagerly awaited the phone call to say an organ donation match had been found.
“I don't remember anything from life (pre) transplant, but my family does,” she said.
“My first operation was a Kasai procedure at eight weeks old and from then, all the way up until I got my new liver two years later, it was one surgery after another.
“I spent most of the first two years of my life in the hospital.
“Since I've received my transplant, I have been able to live a full, relatively normal, life.”
Jasmine said organ donation was so much more than the gift of life for one person.
“Organ donation is such a selfless act that truly changes lives of not just the recipient but all of those around them,” she said.
“The Transplant Games and everything it stands for would not be possible if it weren't for organ donors.
“If you're thinking about becoming an organ donor, or even if you have already registered, make sure you have the discussion about your decision with your close friends and family as at the end of the day, they will be the final ones to give the okay when you pass.
“I think some people think ‘I'm too old or my body is too worn, I won't be able to help anyone’ but that's simply not the case, the body is made up of a lot of moving parts, you never know whose life you're going to change for the better with your donation.”
World Transplant Games a first for Jasmine
This is the first time Jasmine will compete in the World Transplant Games, after planning to take part when it was held in Australia in 2009 but being prevented by injury.
“There's so many emotions toward participating in the World Transplant Games,” she said.
“It's exciting and I'm absolutely thrilled to be able to represent my country, but I'm also nervous, I haven't competed in any games since 2014 and, even then, only nationally.
“This is the first time I will be up against people from all over the world and that's hard to wrap your head around.
“I was lucky enough to attend the World (Transplant) Games the last time they were in Australia (2009), however I had broken my foot in three places six weeks before the competition, so I was hobbling around on crutches the whole time.
“I am steering well clear of anything that could cause injury this time around!”
Jasmine said she was looking forward to the World Transplant Games to be held on Australian soil again, and she will compete in all of the swimming and track events.
“The games are always such a beautiful experience, and Australia is such a beautiful country,” she said.
“I'm excited because not only does it mean the competition is far more accessible to me in terms of costs and travel, but it also means people from all around the globe are going to be able to come to Australia and explore while being supported by people that understand their transplant situation.”
To help Jasmine get to the World Transplant Games recently she held a cupcake day where she raised close to one third of the cost.
For more information or to assist Jasmine click here.