Jessica Sparks is an organ transplant wonder woman.
As for abseiling down a 26-storey building – she’s going to eat it for breakfast.
‘‘I’m fine, no fear, it’s all good,’’ said Miss Sparks of her impending descent down the side of Sydney’s AMP building.
‘‘Abseiling was on my bucket list before the transplant so at least I get to give it a go now.’’
The 20-year-old University of Wollongong student is part of the Abseil for Youth challenge in Sydney on October 19-20.
The event raises money for young people in crisis, but Miss Sparks will also be flying the flag for organ donation, showing the feats and experiences that are possible when a girl at death’s door gets a second chance.
Miss Sparks was 16 when she was diagnosed with end stage lung disease from cystic fibrosis.
The disease had chipped away at all her high school loves – sport was among the first to go – until she was tethered to an oxygen machine and unable to leave bed. She received a double lung transplant in July 2009, then threw herself with gusto into an astonishing array of pursuits.
Now halfway through her university studies – a combined law and journalism degree, and a separate language diploma – she has also set up an organisation, SparkingLife, to raise awareness of organ donation, boost registrations and advocate for donors and recipients.
She has attended Australian and World Transplant Games; was chosen as a Young Social Pioneer – a mentoring recipient within the Foundation for Young Australians – won a Wests Illawarra Youth Achievement Award and the Mercury’s Joel Ritchie Work Integrated Learning Scholarship, to start next week.
As well, she is ‘‘doing some stuff with’’ Youth Parliament and is the media manager for a national anti-poverty campaign.
‘‘I think having been so sick in high school and having to be really good at time management has equipped me really well,’’ Miss Sparks said.
‘‘Having a second chance at life just makes you want to do as much as you can and use what skills you’ve got to really make a difference.
‘‘But my story is the same as so many other people who’ve had their lives turned around [by receiving an organ transplant].’’
Miss Sparks has provided a fund-raising link on the SparkingLife page – www.facebook.com/sparkinglifeaustralia – for supporters of her abseiling challenge.
Pledged funds will be donated to the Sir David Martin Foundation, which aids disadvantaged youth through the Triple Care Farm program.