Shire cafes to serve up important message with takeaway coffee

"No brainer": Bianchini's owner Carmelo Pesce, who was quick to say 'yes', with Leah Barthel. Picture: Chris Lane

Customers at eight cafes in Sutherland Shire will receive an important message with their takeaway coffee next week.

A sticker, including a QR code, on the coffee cup will encourage them to check their status and register as an organ and tissue donor.

The initiative is part of a nationwide awareness campaign for DonateLife Week, which runs from July 25 to August 1.

Shire cafes taking part in the campaign include Bianchini's Espresso in Cronulla, Elouera and Gymea; Ham, The Press and 5th Season in Cronulla; Mr Paisleys in North Caringbah and Cafe Di Casa in Gymea.

The cafes will also display posters and staff will wear DonateLife hats.

Leah Barthel, whose mother Chris saved three lives through the donation of organs after her death from a brain aneurysm in 2011, said she was "overwhelmed by the generosity of the cafe owners" whom she asked to participate.

Organ donor: Chris Barthel gave three people a second chance at life.

Organ donor: Chris Barthel gave three people a second chance at life.

Chris Barthel, who was widowed at 22, devoted her life to her daughter and pupils at Our Lady Star of the Sea Primary School, Miranda, where she was a teacher for 38 years.

Leah initiated the Butterfly Ball to promote organ donorship, but COVID prevented the event being held on the tenth anniversary of her mother's death.

Instead, she has thrown herself into the coffee cup campaign, ordering a total of 16,000 stickers.

"Through the immense grief and shock that we experienced with mum's sudden passing, the one thing she gave me was the gift of clarity," Leah said.

"I knew exactly what her wishes were if anything ever happened to her because she had registered as an organ donor on the Australian Organ Donor Register, and "had the chat" with me numerous times as she was so passionate about giving the gift of life.

"I'm so grateful we could honour her final wish."

Bianchini's Espresso owner Carmelo Pesce, who is also a Sutherland Shire councillor and former mayor, was among Mrs Barthel's pupils at Our Lady Star of the Sea.

Cr Pesce said Mrs Barthel was "one of the most beautiful people I have ever known" and, when he was approached about the campaign, it was "a no brainer".

There are 1800 Australians waiting for a life-saving transplant but last year donor registrations dropped 16 per cent due to less awareness-raising events.

A campaign spokeswoman said, "With many people still under the assumption you can register via the NSW driver's licence, it's important to head to donatelife.gov.au and check if they're registered. It only takes one minute with your Medicare card".

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