|Hi, my name is Laura and I am a double lung transplant recipient.
Without the 'Gift of Life' (my transplant) I would not be here
to share our story with you today.
Steve and I met through an online dating service, www.rsvp.com.au.
Having read my profile, he told me that I was everything that
he was looking for in his ideal partner. Steve is the man
I have always dreamed about meeting! He has all the qualities
I look for in a man ... and then some!
After sending several emails back and forth, we started
phoning each other and our conversations would last hours!
We arranged to meet the following Saturday at the Botanical
Gardens for lunch, but we were both so eager to meet face
to face so I told Steve that I would be in hospital overnight
on the Tuesday following a procedure, and that he could come
and visit me there.
Sure enough Steve came to visit me in hospital. He walked
into my room and gave me a single long stem red rose ... it
was beautiful. Dressed in my pink love heart pj's, I took
Steve by the hand and led him down to a nearby TV room. Steve
wrapped his arms around me and we looked into each other's
eyes. We both felt the chemistry between us and we kissed
for the first time... . We have been at each other's side
Steve proposed to me on the evening of Christmas Day 2004,
having asked my father earlier that day. We had talked about
getting engaged on Christmas Eve which is my birthday but
when he didn't ask, I thought he was going to wait a while.
He asked me on Christmas Day, in his sister's kitchen, when
we got a quiet moment alone. I thought he was joking and didn't
answer! I was watching the look on his face and realised he
was disappointed! I asked him if he was serious. He said,
"Yes!" I apologised and asked him to get down on his knees
but he said he had a sore knee! I jokingly told him to find
a bit of carpet to kneel on! He asked again, this time producing
a ring! I said, "Yes!" Steve took me totally by surprise!
He had purchased an engagement ring for me without my knowledge
and it was perfect! I love it!
We planned to wait at least a year before getting married
but I became very ill and was in a coma for 5 days following
unexplained respiratory failure! I had nearly died and discovered
I had less than 40% chance of survival! One of the first things
that I said when coming out of the coma was, "So, when are
we getting married?"
I finally got out of hospital about two weeks later but
could hardly move due to muscle deconditioning! My health
was very fragile. I was told by the doctors that it would
take six to twelve months to fully recover .... forever the
optimists we chose to marry in October which would give me
eight months to recover. We had always been keen on a Spring
We started thinking about our wedding plans soon after I
came out of hospital but we were reluctant to make any firm
plans until my health started to improve. We joked around
a lot about where we'd get married ... including in the respiratory
ward of the hospital, since we spent so much time there!
In August 2004, about two weeks before we met, I had attended
the official launch of the David Hookes Foundation transplant
bus which is one of those long bendy buses, decked out as
a huge bill-board to advertise 'Organ Donor Awareness'. The
bus has the faces of ten transplant recipients on both sides
of the bus and I am one of them. One day I joked to Steve
that we should get the David Hookes Foundation bus as our
wedding vehicle! Everything snowballed from there!
Steve got on the phone to TransAdelaide who now own the
bus which was generously donated by the David Hookes Foundation
to raise awareness for organ donation. Steve made many phone
calls to find out if it would be possible to get the bus.
With the help of Liberal MP The Honourable Julian Stefani,
strings were pulled and we managed to secure the bus and a
driver for the day! The next hurdle was getting traffic control
organised as we needed two lanes of traffic blocked off on
the very busy road where we were getting married in the middle
of! Yes, we got married on the medium strip on Port Road,
Hindmarsh, opposite the Adelaide Entertainment Centre!
It was no ordinary medium strip though! On this particular
section of medium strip is 'The Gift of Life Garden' which
is a rose garden established in loving memory of organ donors
and their families. A friend and fellow double lung transplant
recipient, Steve Cavallo, had the brilliant idea of getting
married at the Gift of Life Gardens. He had planned to get
married there but I understand his wife to be was too nervous.
He put us in touch with the mayor of Charles Sturt Council,
Mayor Harold Anderson, and we later got permission to marry
there. These plans were started about six months before our
wedding but were only officially confirmed about a week before
The weather on our wedding day was perfect. We had been
worried because it rained the day before but it was a lovely
sunny 26 degrees and the grass and trees were lovely and green.
Only one white rose was in bloom but the garden still looked
lovely and it was decoration enough for our special day! As
the wedding party stepped out of the bus, 'The Promise' by
Enya was playing. The atmosphere was very relaxed and filled
with love and friendship. Due to the theme of our wedding,
'Organ Donor Awareness', the use of the chairs for our wedding
were generously donated by Festival Hire. Our wedding was
open to all transplant recipients, donor families, people
waiting for transplants, friends and family, and the public.
Both Steve and I were surprisingly calm, even when being interviewed
by Channel 10 to be shown on the news that night!
To help us promote Organ Donor Awareness, we got Bernie
Morellini, the president of Transplant Australia (South Australian
division), to find a young boy and girl who had had transplants
to be our page boy and flower girl. Transplant Australia put
us in touch with two families whose child had each had a liver
transplant earlier this year. Joesphine was nearly six years
old and Taij nearly three years old. We met Joesphine and
family a week before our wedding. We met Taij and family the
day before our wedding! Steve, myself and the two families
had a lovely picnic lunch together to get acquainted and put
the kids at ease with us. They are all great people and we
will remain close friends for many years to come.
During our ceremony one of my sisters read two poems about
organ donation that she wrote especially for the day; My mum
read a thanksgiving; and tribute was read for my donor and
also for a special friend of mine that gave me the strength
to carry on. A tribute was also read for Steve's second cousin
Steven, who was tragically killed in a motor bike accident.
Steven had been an organ donor and his generosity saved the
lives of five people. In fact, we married on the eight anniversary
of his death.
We had our reception at the hall adjacent to St. Peter's
Cathedral. My parents generously paid for caterers to serve
on the day which really took the pressure off. Mum made some
beautiful table decorations for the day. I had prepared some
CD's prior to the day with a variety of love songs. We just
sat our portable CD player in a corner and had lovely background
We planned a short reception, two hours, because I tire easily
and we knew it would be a long day.
We would have loved to have gone somewhere tropical but
I am on a Disability Support Pension and Steve is my full
time carer so we're no millionaires! My parents generosity
shone through again ... they treated us to two nights at the
Oaks Plaza Pier Hotel in Glenelg. We had a beautiful room
on the sixth floor, overlooking the ocean. We enjoyed a couple
of very relaxing days away from home.
Steve contacted many people with regard to publicity for
the day. Of those contacted, Channel 10 came to our ceremony
and interviewed us. The interview was shown nationally on
the evening of our wedding. We were also featured in our local
paper. We are still pursuing other avenues in an effort to
spread the word about the need for organ donors.