Brave mum's Herd of Hope

A SECOND CHANCE: Megan McLoughlin with her two kids Sam and Ella.
A SECOND CHANCE: Megan McLoughlin with her two kids Sam and Ella. Contributed

A FEW years ago, rural mum Megan McLoughlin was given a diagnosis no one wants to receive.

Her doctor told her she had only one month to live.

But after a double transplant (kidney-pancreas) in 2010, the tough country girl met the love of her life and has since had two beautiful children - Sam, 2 and Ella, 10 months.

After being given a second chance, Megan realised the importance of organ and tissue donations, and the lack of wider knowledge surrounding it.

In a bid to raise awareness, Megan launched the Herd of Hope.

It was during the Sydney Harbour Bridge 75th celebrations Megan discovered the bridge was still an active stock route.

She called her father Jim Willoughby, who had more than 35 years experience working with horses and film, and told him she wanted to do a cattle drive across the bridge to raise awareness for organ donation.

"Initially he said I was a bloody idiot. I'm being polite though - it was slightly more colourful," she joked.

"But eventually he called back and said he would help me do it.

"So I launched a social media campaign and within six days over 300,000 people had been reached, which is absolutely amazing."

Megan grew up on a cattle and horse property just outside of Bordertown, South Australia.

She now resides in the Barossa Valley with her husband Mark, but is still involved in the family properties running cattle and horses.

Her brother Tom Willoughby is a stockman on Suplejack Downs in the Northern Territory, where seven other stockmen have been affected in some way by life-changing organ and tissue transplants.

The mixed herd will be driven across the bridge by these stockmen and Megan's family.

Megan is now calling on cattle owners to donate their best heifers for the event.

Everyone who has been touched by the cause is encouraged to walk across the bridge as well.

Megan's father said he had always supported organ and tissue donation and his family was forever grateful for the gift of life Megan had received.

"What's more, we are blessed to have her new family, including our two grandchildren, in our lives," Mr Willoughby said.

"I was born and raised in the bush and have spent a large part of my working life in remote Australia so understand many of the challenges people face with health care living rurally.

"I've spent nearly 40 years training livestock, which has given me the expertise to carry out this event."

You can also sponsor a cow's journey across the bridge by visiting

The event is slated for May.

Topics:  organ donation organ transplant

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