The Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation was formed in 2004 through the tireless efforts of Yvonne Bali, who championed this worthy cause. Yvonne would not be alive today but for her lifesaving double lung transplant surgery, which took place in September 1999 at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.
It was this experience in having to relocate from Perth to wait for donor organs to become available that led her to believe more could be done in the area of heart and lung transplantation in WA and the diseases that lead to transplantation.
Once on the road to recovery, she met WA builder Garry Brown-Neaves of home builder Webb & Brown–Neaves, which created the catalyst that enabled the Foundation to become established. Garry was so compelled by Yvonne’s story that he decided to build a charity home, with proceeds from the sale securing the Foundation’s immediate future.
The emotional and financial hardship that Yvonne endured whilst based in Melbourne was the inspiration behind her campaign to establish a Lung Transplant unit in Perth – the first goal of the Foundation. The project came to fruition in November 2004 with the official opening heralded by the first lung transplant to take place in Perth.
Yvonne sadly passed away in September 2016 – 17 years after she received her life-saving transplant.
Respiratory physician and inaugural head of the WA Lung Transplant Unit Eli Gabbay said the chance of a lung transplant recipient living 17 years post transplant was less than 5 per cent. This is testament to Yvonne’s amazing fighting spirit.
Yvonne will be remembered as a trailblazer, a champion for the transplant cause, an advocate for transplant patients and a remarkable, intuitive and intelligent woman.
Yvonne’s daughter Nicole Cox Bertoldo now sits on the Foundation Board.
“I cannot begin to thank all the individuals and businesses that have made my dream of a lung transplant unit come true, and who continue to offer such great support.”