When Natalie lost her husband, strangers received a life-changing gift

When Steven Smith unexpectedly died at 41, his organ donations saved lives and brought some meaning to a heartbreaking situation.

Natalie Arnull will never forget the day her loving husband Steven Smith, 41, unexpectedly collapsed and passed away.

Steven, a loving father to Raye, 5, and Darcy, 2, was a talented sound engineer and musician with a big laugh and even bigger personality.

“He was such a caring father, husband and friend,” Natalie says.

“With the stage of life we were at with young children, I would never have imagined our family in that situation.”

Natalie says when she was told Steven had registered as an organ donor, it made her decision to donate his organs easier during the difficult time.

“We hadn’t really talked about it, but if we had had that discussion about organ donation, it would have made it easier as well,” Natalie says.

Natalie has since written letters to some organ recipients and discovered the life-saving impact Steven’s organ donations have had.

“It was heartbreaking but there was also some kind of meaning in that as well, to know that it was an awful situation, but someone’s life has been saved as a result,” she says.

Steven Smith and kids

Organ donation in Australia

One organ donor can save up to seven lives, and help many more through eye and tissue donation.

There are currently around 1800 Australians on the organ waitlist and a further 14,000 more on dialysis who may require a kidney transplant.

Figures show almost 80 per cent of Australians are to become organ and tissue donors, but only around one in three are actually registered to be a donor.

Organ and Tissue Authority chief executive Lucinda Barry says anyone aged 16 and over can register as an organ and tissue donor.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, your medical history, what country you’re from or how healthy you are – you can still register,” Lucinda says.

“But it’s really important to let your family know that you’ve registered, too.

“Families are always asked to give consent to donation, and this is far more likely to happen if you were registered as a donor and your family know that you want to be a donor.”

Natalie wants to encourage more Australians to register as organ donors.

“If you’re open to organ donation, don’t wait, sign up if it’s something you would like to do,” Natalie says.

“It’s really important to have that discussion with your family.”

Want to register as an organ donor?

If you’ve decided you want to be an organ donor, visit DonateLife and register with your Medicare card. It only takes one minute to register.

Or register with just 3 taps in your Medicare app.

And remember to have a conversation about it with your loved ones.

DonateLife Week runs from July 23-30.

More on organ donation:

Written by Bianca Carmona.