2015 Gift of Life Awards for Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness

Friday, December 11, 2015

An extraordinary group of individuals were recognised on Monday 30 November by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr for their outstanding contributions in raising awareness of organ and tissue donation.

The awards acknowledge the exceptional role played by those in the community, health and government sectors in promoting organ and tissue donation. Gift of Life congratulates this year’s recipients:

  • A Special Award for Leadership and Support – Katy Gallagher, former ACT Chief Minister – for her commitment to raising awareness for organ and tissue donation and transplantation that has been a foundation for strong community awareness and support in the ACT for this important cause.
  • The Terry Connolly Award for Healthcare Leadership and Innovation – Professor Peter MacDonald and Associate Professor Kumud Dhital of St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney – for their leading roles in pioneering and carrying out, in 2014, the world’s first successful ‘dead heart’ transplant operation whereby hearts are revived after circulatory death and transferred to recipients, enabling a major increase in the pool of hearts available for transplantation.
  • The Ben Wiseman Award for Policy Advocacy and Support – Dr Helen Watchirs OAM – for her outstanding contribution and continued support for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Following the tragic death of her husband Terry Connolly, Dr Watchirs has played a pivotal role in lifting public recognition for the cause as well as contributing to government policy in this area.
  • The Jenny Deck Award for Community Support – Marjorie Taylor – for being at the forefront in promoting organ and tissue donation since her daughter – Annette Taylor – became the ACT’s first organ donor 40 years ago.
  • The Annette Taylor Award for Support from Schools – Canberra Girls Grammar School – for its enthusiastic and continuing involvement as well as its assistance at Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk.

In addition, the Angus Fairbairn-Cody Award was presented to two young kidney recipients, Harry Irvine and Ava Bancroft, whose parents spoke about their organ donation experience to help inspire the community to become organ and tissue donors.

Gift of Life President David O’Leary thanked award recipients for their dedication in increasing organ donation and transplantation and in raising awareness for organ and tissue donation. “Community advocates such as those we’re recognising play a pivotal role in spreading awareness and generating community support and understanding,” Mr O’Leary said. “With only about 60 per cent of families currently giving consent for organ and tissue donation to proceed, it’s important to encourage discussion amongst families and friends who could ultimately make the decision about your donation wishes and for them to also sign onto the Australian Organ Donor Register.

“The ACT has a good donation rate by Australian standards, but much more needs to be done to raise awareness amongst the community and that their decision to be a donor can save the lives of up to 10 people,” Mr O’Leary said.

Register for Organ Donation

Are you registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register?   Click here to register on line or call 1800 777 203.

Tax Deductible Gifts

Gift of Life Incorporated – a not for profit non-governmental organisation – based in the ACT engages in a range of activities each year in support of organ and tissue donation.

Gift of Life enjoys tax deductible gift status with the Australian Taxation Office for contributions received in excess of $2.00.

Those in the community wishing to contribute funds to support Gift of Life’s activities may do so either by sending a cheque addressed to Gift of Life Incorporated, PO Box 9511, Deakin, ACT 2600 or by direct transfer to Gift of Life Incorporated’s bank account with the NAB BSB 082-980 Account Number 495688467.


Terry Connolly

Justice Terry Connolly died suddenly in the early morning of 25 September 2007 on Red Hill, having cycled to the top as part of his exercise routine.  He was a Supreme Court Judge since 2003, and Master since 1996.  Terry was the Member for Molonglo in 1990-1995 and served as the ACT Attorney-General and Minister in various portfolios, including Health.  He and his family have lived in Canberra for many years and he was a popular Canberran.

More importantly, Terry was a husband, father, son and, following his death, a tissue donor.

Terry’s wife, Dr Helen Watchirs, says that she and Terry had discussed their wishes in relation to organ donation.  This meant that at the dreadful time of death, she was clear on his wishes.  Terry’s donation to the improvement of other lives has given Helen and his daughters a sense of contribution, and has helped make up for a life cut short.