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Ambulance Wish Qld needs donations to keep granting last wishes

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

THE state’s peak charity for terminally ill people is desperately seeking donations to help grant dying Queenslanders their last wishes.

Ambulance Wish Queensland, a nation-first program launched by Palliative Care Queensland, has delivered two “last wishes” to Queenslanders in the past six months since launching.

But the number of wishes granted is dependent on funds, so the organisation is seeking support from the community and corporate sector to help tick items off of Queenslanders’ bucket lists.

Palliative Care Queensland chief executive Shyla Mills said the program by Queensland Health but “desperately needed urgent funding” from the community and corporate donations and sponsorships.

“We hope to do one wish every couple of weeks, but we desperately need urgent funding,” she said.

“In the past six months we’ve been building the program itself behind the scenes, but obviously there’s a lot of funding required.

“We’ve had a huge amount of volunteers, over 120 volunteers most of them doctors nurses paramedics and community members as well.

“People think palliative care is about dying but it’s about living every moment that you’ve got left in this precious time, in a precious way.”

On July 25, with the support of the Queensland Government, which donated a decommissioned ambulance and initial funding of $50,000, Betty Dowsett a palliative care unit at Canossa Private Hospital became the first wish recipient.

The mother of eight, and great grandmother of 29 always loved being outside and in gardens so her last wish was to see flowers again, and have a passion fruit ice cream.

For the 92-year-old Ms Dowsett, the chance to leave palliative care to spend a few hours in the sunshine in Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens was “pure joy”, and it was Ambulance Wish Queensland who fulfilled that wish just weeks before she died earlier this year.

Her granddaughter Liz Raw said Ms Dowsett always had a love of gardening, all her memories of her involve her in her garden, her veggie patch, her flowers.

And three days ago, Trevor Dawson became the second recipient of Ambulance Wish Queensland.

Ever since Mr Dawson was a child he dreamt of flying and after a career in the aviation industry his last wish was to “marvel once again at the majesty of flight and inhale the intoxicating aromas of Jet A-1”.

He and his wife Karen Ashton took one last trip together from the palliative care unit at St Vincent’s Private Hospital (SVPH) in Brisbane to one of their favourite plane spotting “date sites”, watching planes soar in the sky.

With only one ambulance vehicle, the program is limited to servicing anyone within 100km of Brisbane.

And Ambulance Wish Queensland has high hopes to ramp up the number of wishes they can provide, calling on support to fund at least one wish every two to three weeks on average throughout the year.

Each year the program will cost about $200,000 per ambulance to run.

Their five-year-plan is to have a second ambulance based in Brisbane and vehicles then rolled-out in Townsville and Hervey Bay.

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