Repaying the support
Kidney recipient returns from world games with medal
MATTY Hempstalk received an unimaginable gift when he was 14 – a kidney transplant from his mother.
After moving from New Zealand to the Coast in 2002, the transplant began to fail and he received a second donation. It has now been 13-and-a-half years since his last transplant.
Mr Hempstalk is a Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service consumer representative.
“I’ve always been involved as an advocate to make people aware of kidney disease,” he said.
“I’ve been sick since the age of four and learned to be a self-manager of the disease. Being in hospital and seeing how hard the staff have to work, I thought I could offer something as a patient. To talk about how the system affects someone like me and how the patient can help ease the workload.”
Mr Hempstalk said he wanted to give back after being involved with hospitals his whole life.
“Without the care I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
“Patients also need to take control of their own health, the system can only do so much and some responsibility needs to be taken on by patients too.”
A constant in Mr Hempstalk’s life was sport.
“Sport was my saviour from a young age,” he said.
“It was the only time I felt like I wasn’t sick.”
It comes as no surprise that Mr Hempstalk’s passion for sport lead him to represent Australia. He has competed in the World Transplant Games five times and last year he returned from Spain with a medal.
“I teamed up with a friend and we pulled off bronze,” he said.
“For me, there is no better way to honour my donor, medical staff at the hospital and promote the importance of organ and tissue donation than training.”
To learn about becoming a consumer representative, phone 5470 5822 or email SC-engage[email protected] qld.gov.au.
GOALS: Matty Hempstalk (second from left) has travelled the world (inset) to represent Australia in the World Transplant Games.