Transplant Australia is a national charity representing transplant recipients, donor families, living donors and all those touched by organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
Transplant Australia originated as the Australian Transplant Sports Association which formed in the late 1980’s to provide transplant recipients the opportunity to take part in the World Transplant Games.
The driving force behind the Australian Transplant Sports Association were David Cairns and Brian Donovan, both transplant recipients. In 1988 they organised the first Australian Transplant Games to encourage recipients to take part in sports and demonstrate the wonders of organ transplantation to the community.
The Transplant Australia ‘Thank You Garden’ at Floriade in Canberra, 2010.
Another key player in the formative years was Mark Cocks OA, a kidney recipient, who played an integral part in winning the bid to stage the 1997 World Transplant Games in Sydney.
With the growing success of the Transplant Games, the Australian Transplant Association was evolving into into an organisation that included donor families, living donors, medical personnel and others touched by organ donation and transplantation. This resulted in the formation of Transplant Australia in 1996, with Mark Cocks appointed as the first Chief Executive Officer.
Under Mark’s direction, Transplant Australia broadened its focus to include raising awareness of the need to increase organ donor rates in Australia. Mark was passionate about helping those awaiting organ transplantation so that they could have the same opportunities for improved health that he had experienced.
Mark Cocks OA held the position of CEO until late 2006, when ill health forced his retirement. The position of CEO was then taken over by Mr Chris Thomas, whose focus has been to broaden Transplant Australia to represent all facets of organ donation and transplantation.
Transplant Australia has grown from being a simple member-run organisation to a charity responsible for staging the Australian Transplant Games as well as looking after the interests of all its members through advocacy, raising awareness and support.