Megan McLoughlin speaks from experience when she says that without hope, you have nothing. In December 2010, doctors told her she had just weeks to live unless she had a double organ transplant. The odds were stacked against her. The chance of a long life was slim. Then one morning, she received a phone call that changed everything.
“I still remember receiving the phone call to say there was an organ donor. It was on the 20th December 2010 at 9:07am,” Megan says. “I thought ‘finally, it was my turn’. Then three seconds later my heart dropped because I realised that meant someone had died.”
The inescapable truth about organ donation is that hope and heartache are inextricably linked. It normally takes death to give the gift of life. For that reason, there are a lot of emotions that accompany organ donation, which is why Megan started the charity Herd of Hope.
Herd of Hope focuses on supporting organ recipients and donor families in regional and rural Australia. Last year, Megan travelled more than 55,000 kilometres around Australia to visit families whose loved ones had donated organs. She provides them with a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen.
“Whether your loved one has donated organs, or whether you have received an organ, the point of donation is just the beginning of the journey,” Megan says. “We need to acknowledge that people need support from that point onwards.”
Providing that support to regionally-based Australians is the primary focus of Herd of Hope, and she hopes by coming to Townsville she can connect with organ donor families and recipients in the broader Queensland community.
Megan says that women in regional Australia usually fulfil multiple roles in the family home and business. They are the accountant, nurse and empathetic mother. She wants to let them know that they are not alone.
This International Women’s Day, Megan also wants to remind women not to put limitations on themselves. She is legally blind, had a double transplant and survived cancer, yet she believes she can do just about anything. She wants all women to believe that about themselves, too.