Former Bundaberg Bull grateful for second chance
THE phone rings and John Weiland holds his breath in anticipation.
It's a phone call that could change his life.
Unfortunately on this occasion it's a telemarketer desperate to sell him a service he has no need for.
But he does not lose hope.
He can't afford to.
For Mr Weiland the equation is simple: he needs a liver transplant.
About 2006 the then 25 year old was diagnosed with an autoimmune liver disease.
"I could live it with it for a while but it would get worse after time," Mr Weiland said.
"About 2014 I was getting a bit too sick."
It was at this point the former Bundaberg Bull basketballer moved to Brisbane with his young family in tow, was added to a donor waiting list and put his life on pause.
During his two-year wait Mr Weiland had two events he referred to as dummy runs.
"You get called for a transplant and then the organ has to pass a final inspection, which is usually about half-an-hour before the op," he said.
But both times, at the last minute, the organ was deemed unsuitable.
All the adrenaline, excitement and fear dissipated in an instant.
"It's hard to explain the feeling. It's numbing."
Six months ago, Mr Weiland was finally given the transplant he needed and began his road to recovery.
"I used to be fit and strong but now I've lost 18kg of mostly muscle," he said.
Mr Weiland had time to reflect on his situation recently when France introduced an opt-out policy regarding organ donations - where people are presumed to be organ donors unless they officially register to opt out.
"It's hard to argue that it doesn't work because Spain has the highest organ donation rate in the world," he said.
"I think it's a good thing but not the complete answer.
"The key part is having a conversation with your family."
Mr Weiland said he had made it clear to his family that when it's his time to go, he wants his organs donated.
"When you have that personal connection to it there becomes no doubt that you want to donate," he said.
"What we have to do is change our culture where we say 'of course, I'll donate, it's the Aussie way'."
Mr Weiland said he was excited to be heading back into the workforce after a long hiatus.
"I have a job at Sarina Russo as a disability employment consultant," he said.
"I've been through this process and I look forward to helping people."