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Donor Hero: Sally McCanna - Amazing Gift

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my daughter’s story.

Sally McCanna was born in Griffith on the 3rd December 1984, she was our first born and her brother Steven was born in 1988.

Sally, even as a little girl was a vibrant & outgoing personality. She attended primary school & high school here in Griffith.

During her school years she participated in every sport on the curriculum, winning the Milani award in year 6 for sporting excellence and in year 12 she was awarded the Pierre De Coubertin award, which recognizes senior secondary students who demonstrate attributes consistent with Olympism through participation and commendable behaviour in sporting activities.

Outside of school she represented her town in touch football & basketball. Basketball became a passion and we travelled the countryside with her & Steven both playing. She put back into her sport by becoming a coach & a referee.

When she completed her HSC she attended CSU in Bathurst, where she completed a degree in human movement and was about half way through her dip ed, when she decided she had had enough of school. This is when the adventure began.

She worked 5 seasons in Thredbo as a “liftee”. Her colleagues following her death, said that many people pass through Thredbo, some you will never remember & some you will never forget, her supervisor said that she fell into the second category.

She loved to wear her colourful onesies and was well know for her huge smile, pink spikky hair and friendly vibe. She also became well know with the children on Friday Flat with her snow sculptures.

Sally traveled to Sun Peaks in Canada for a snow season again working as a liftee. She worked at Seaworld for a summer. Life was one big party.

Sal would return to Griffith most wine vintages to work in the local wineries in order to save enough money for the next adventure.

In May 2014, traveling to work at Warburn Estates for her last day before preparing to head to South America for 6 months, she was involved in a single car accident. She was taken to our local hospital, where Paul, Steven & I were able to see her and speak to her in emergency. She was then taken for x-rays and spent the next 5 hours in theatre as the local surgeon worked with his team to stabilize her so that she could be air lifted to Canberra. The Snowy Hydro Care Flight helicopter landed in the hospital grounds and she was on her way to Canberra in a stable, but critical condition. We traveled up by car and upon our arrival we met with the ICU doctor who told us that Sal had no life threatening injuries, however she was not out of the woods, but he felt that she would make a full recovery. He advised us to check into our accommodation and get some rest as we had a long recovery period ahead of us.

The following morning upon our arrival back at ICU, we received the most devastating news we have ever heard. Sally had suffered a stroke after a blood clot had travelled to her brain causing a caustrophic brain injury. She would not be waking up to take her place in our little family again.

Sally had always made it clear to us that she, like us would be organ donors if the situation ever arose. We had the discussion many times and never in my wildest dreams did I think we would ever be giving consent for our child to become an organ donor.

Sally gave her gift on Mothers Day 2014. Four people received gifts on the 12th May. Three ladies received a heart, a kidney/pancreas, a liver & a man the other kidney. We now know that unfortunately the liver recipient did not survive, she did however gain a few more months with her family. We have had a letter & a card from her heart recipient.

It was Sally’s wish that if she was to die, then she would save someone else from dying by giving them the gift of life.

We are incredibly proud of our daughter & sister, both in life and in death, she was a kind & thoughtful soul who always gave more than she took.

Sally is in the middle

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