Car show payback for lungs recipient
Rotorua's Danny Saunders is a man on a mission after having his lungs transplanted.
In 2009, Mr Saunders was diagnosed with a genetic lung disorder - alpha one antitrypsin deficiency - the same disorder which took the life of his father.
He said he was completely reliant on an oxygen bottle to breathe and his health was deteriorating rapidly.
"I was on an oxygen bottle 24/7 in the end.
"I couldn't lift anything, [my wife] had to do everything for me," Mr Saunders said.
Then in August 2010 he and his wife, Kathryn Howes, received a call that a pair of lungs was available from a matching donor.
Mr Saunders recovered well after his transplant operation in Auckland and has planned a car show to raise donor awareness and say thank you for his new life.
"It's about payback," Mr Saunders said.
"I consider myself very lucky to be alive.
"These lungs have given my family back a life."
On Monday he partnered up with Rotorua's Pure Bliss Salon and Spa, who helped him raise funds for his up-coming car show.
The salon gave up all their services for one day, including staff wages, raising more than $1000 for Mr Saunders.
"Rotorua businesses are getting right behind the show and this is a perfect example of that," Mr Saunders said.
"To me this show is not only a thank you but also a chance to raise donor awareness.
"We have one of the lowest organ donor rates in the western world."
The Big Thank You Organ Donor Awareness Car Show will be from 9am to 3pm next Saturday at The Strand in Tauranga.
Salon owner Kellie Barns said she had known Mr Saunders and his wife for many years. "I want to do a charity event each year. And this year I thought of Danny straight away," she said.
The car show will include 150 cars and representatives from Organ Donation New Zealand.
Mr Saunders said it was hugely important to tell your family or someone close to you whether or not you want to be a donor.
By Gary Hamilton-Irvine
The Daily Post
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