Quite simply, Megan McLoughlin says she is filled with hope each time she reflects on the greatest gift she has ever received – life.
The 37-year-old Tanunda woman is a double transplant recipient following medical conditions which left her legally blind.
Her desire to live a full and rewarding life was strengthened on Thursday evening after she was named the 2019 South Australian Local Hero for her advocacy work towards organ donation.
The mother of two is the founder of the Herd of Hope – a charity which promotes organ donation to schools and the wider community.
Included in her long-list of awareness campaigns was a cattle drive led this year, which involved 30 Poll Hereford heifers, from the Northern Territory to Bondi Beach Sydney, with a stop over in the Barossa.
“I simply want to give hope to others,” she told Barossa Herald.
“My favourite saying is, ‘I was sad because I had no shoes and then I saw a man who had no feet’.”
Ms McLoughlin said the “blood heavy trophy”, presented at Adelaide Oval in front of a crowd of 300 people is also the result of her family, including husband Mark, and their wide network of friends and supporters, some of which joined them on the evening.
"However, I was totally unprepared for this win,” she said.
"We first went to government house to meet the Governor and his wife, and Mark took me up to shake his hand because of course I couldn't see him,” she explained.
It was during this visit and mingling with SA Govenor Hieu Van Le and all SA of the Year nominees, she told her supporters she felt she had no chance.
“Especially because I was against the high-calibre of nominees, including Associate Professor Chris Zeitz (committed to raising standards of rural and Indigenous health),” she said.
Yet her assumption proved wrong and the honour means Ms McLoughlin now vies for the national award presented in Canberra next January.
“I was later told when I gave my speech that I spoke from the heart,” she said.
Good friend and executive of the Herd for Hope, Annie Allert explained how Ms McLouglin's speech meant most people were moved to tears, with the Governor also emotional during the event.
For SA premier Steven Marshall, all recipients were inspirational for their achievements and contributions to the state.
“Each individual recognised has conducted themselves with passion and integrity; whether it be using their skills to help others at great risk, to forge a new path which others may follow, to preserve culture and country or overcome their own challenges to make a difference for others in need,” he explained.
Ms McLoughlin received her ‘gifts of life’ in December 2010 after she found herself living with acute renal failure.
At the time she was given only weeks to live.
With each passing birthday, Ms McLoughlin expressed how happy she is to become a year older and continue to mother Sam, aged almost four and Ella, two.
She is also just one of 64 women in the world to deliver two children post double transplant.
So, it’s during December when Ms McLoughlin reflects on how precious her life is and how fortunate she is to the donor who saved her life.
This year, she has also faced two cancer diagnoses, yet continues to focus her energy on improving the lives of others.
Ms McLoughlin, who is not one to rest nor give up, further shared how she continues to inspire the community with a positive message of hope and already has more awareness events on the horizon.