Second chance at life

Sharon and Brooke

Brooke Huuskes (right) and Associate Professor Sharon Ricardo.

Brooke Huuskes isn’t one to relax. When she isn’t conducting kidney research at the School of Biomedical Sciences, the PhD student and kidney transplant recipient is promoting organ donation through her award winning films and other activities. 

If that weren’t enough, Brooke is among 800 people this week who are competing at the Australian Transplant Games in Melbourne. They include transplant recipients, supporters, living donors and donor families from Australia and overseas. 

Brooke, 29, has set herself a huge challenge, competing in the 3km fun run, 20 km cycle, archery, badminton, ten pin bowling, darts, swimming and athletics. 

“I wanted to get fit as one side effect of immunosuppressive drugs is weight gain,” Brooke said. 

“These games are special because my Dad donated a kidney to me four-and-a-half years ago, and he will be here with me competing as a living donor, which is fantastic. 

“I also have supportive friends from Uni who will be running and playing tennis, and aiming for gold medals!”

Another familiar face on the competition circuit is Brooke’s PhD supervisor Associate Professor Sharon Ricardo and Associate Dean (Graduate Research) at the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, who together with her husband and daughter, dashed around Albert Park Lake in the 5 km fun run on the weekend. 

“While we are trying to find new treatments for kidney disease, the only options for kidney disease patients right now are organ donation or dialysis,” Associate Professor Ricardo said. 

“As kidney disease is growing in incidence by 6-8 per cent a year and Australia has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world, it’s important to participate in the Australian Transplant Games to build community awareness about organ donation for people who really need it, and to celebrate the gift of life.”