AFL UMPIRE Rob O'Gorman knows the importance of organ donation.
Eight years ago, his mother Shauna – a sufferer of chronic asthma – was placed in the traumatic position of requiring a double lung transplant to stay alive.
It was a long, gruelling process, but after 21 months on a waiting list, Shauna was able to undergo a successful transplant that has enabled her to witness the birth of her eight grandchildren. A ninth is on its way this week.
It's why O'Gorman is so appreciative of the AFL's partnership with the Organ and Tissue Authority, which will this week support DonateLife Week across round 19's fixtures.
I'm here, I'm living proof of how organ donation is so successful.
It aims to encourage supporters to join the Australian Organ Donor Register, which in turn could help the 1400 Australians currently in need of a live-saving transplant.
"Eight years ago, it changed our lives," O'Gorman told AFL.com.au.
"To still have my mum here today is purely as a result of the decision made by the donor and their family at the time. It's just remarkable and it saved her life.
"It's awesome, just to continually get the message out there through the AFL about so many Australians being willing to donate and making that next step and registering.
"It helps ensure they talk to their family as well, which is just so important."
Last year, more than 1600 Australians received a transplant thanks to 510 deceased and 273 living organ donors, as well as their families. Shauna is living proof how successful it can be.
"It's very unusual to be in that position, needing a transplant," Shauna said.
"But I became desperately ill over a couple of years and things weren't looking good at all.
"I went on the transplant list and had to wait 21 months. During that time, I was in and out of hospital constantly, maybe for two weeks out of every four.
"Then I got the call, and there hasn't been a day gone past where I haven't silently said thank you to the donor and their family. It's just made a world of difference.
"I'm here, I'm living proof of how organ donation is so successful. I've lived to see eight grandchildren being born and another one due this week.
"Life is wonderful. It's absolutely wonderful."
This weekend's matches will be marked by the use of magenta flags by goal umpires to promote organ donation, as well as signage placed around AFL grounds across Australia.
"It's so impressive," O'Gorman said.
"Obviously they started it last year and when I saw the partnership had happened, I was just so proud of what the AFL had done to try and get the message out there.
"There are so many charitable messages out there, but this is a little bit different in terms of it being about a decision that everyone considers.
"It's not for everyone, but it's at least getting the message out there that it's very easy – it takes under a minute to register.
"The information shows that a lot of people are willing, we just need them to make that next step. But I've been so grateful for what the AFL and the players are doing right across the round to get the message out there on such a national stage."
* Join the Australian Organ Donor Register by visiting www.donatelife.gov.au, or via the myGov, Medicare Express Plus and Department of Human Services websites. *