Justin Lowndes

4th June 1969—10th May 2007


Justin and his young sister Megan were the only children of Penny and Ron. After Megan was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis [CF] in November 1970, Justin was also found to have the condition. From that time onwards the life of the family revolved around clinic visits and hospital admissions. Firstly at the Queen Victoria Hospital, Melbourne then to the Royal Childrens’ [where Megan died in April 1983] and finally to The Alfred where Justin transferred when he was 17.

Extended family always played a significant role in Justin’s life especially his grandparents, only his much loved Dottie has outlived him. Uncle Terry [Mott] always there for him and prepared to give his all.

Joining the Davies family, when his mother remarried in 1979, provided him with another mate Cled and step brothers Brynn and Evan and step-sister Ruth.

Justin attended Girton in prep, then transferred to Violet St PS for grades 1-4. He completed primary schooling at Gravel Hill and then went on to the Marist Brothers. Firstly at Junortoun and then to the McCrae St campus. Bendigo TAFE provided Justin with an opportunity to extend his love of cartooning and photography through their VOP and TOP programs. A series of serious CF related illness saw him miss most of Term 2 and reluctantly he withdrew from the course and commenced VCE study at Kangaroo Flat Technical School. Many of Justin’s staunchest friends stem from this era.

Scouts (he was a leader with 2nd Bendigo Troop), squash, soccer he was into them all. Thoughts of tertiary study in childcare were thwarted by illness, so it was timely when a position became available at the Helm St Crèche in Kangaroo Flat, Justin was appointed to fill the vacancy. Deciding to formalise his role in this field he enrolled in Primary Teaching at the Bendigo College of Advanced Education (later La Trobe University), however was again forced to defer study due to failing health.

His next job was a part time courier, with Australia Post. His gregarious personality saw him really blossom in this job and provided him with the chance to meet a huge number of people, to work independently and to take ownership of his job.

With ill health, he retired from the Post Office in 1993 and spent most of the next 2½ years as an inpatient at the Alfred attempting to regain sufficient condition to convince the medicos to place him on the transplant waiting list.

In July 1995 Justin received his first double lung transplant. After a period of recovery dogged by various bouts of rejection, and a further attempt at tertiary study he finally clinched a job with ACCESS Employment in May 1997. For the next 9 years Justin held the position of courier for ACCESS on the Bendigo Bank Courier run.

These were the happiest and most fulfilling years at both work and play. Mountain bikes, night clubs, text messages, emails, his family and friends – he revelled in the challenges and rewards offered during this time.

Opportunities to promote organ donor awareness by telling his own story through the media were very important to Justin. He travelled to Disneyland, NZ and Bali and participated in the Transplant Games, the 2000 Olympic Torch Relay and in 2006 carrying the Commonwealth Games baton. These were real highlights.

From mid June 2006 it became obvious that Justin need another transplant [a new set of airbags as he put it], he was re-assessed and in January 2007 his listing on the waiting list activated.

Just five weeks later in mid March the call arrived from the Alfred a little before midnight. A quick dash to Melbourne, 10 hours in theatre and things looked extremely promising for the next few weeks. Difficulties with the new graft kept him in hospital for seven weeks after the surgery. During the first week after discharge severe complications arose and he was re –admitted. Justin died late on Thursday evening, 10th May 2007, attended by staff who had become his friends and with his Mother beside him.

He had a fantastic life enriched by experiences made possible through his own tenacity and the support, love and care, of so many people. We will all treasure the special memories we have of our relationships with Justin knowing he’d expect us to pedal on and remember the fun times after all – SHIT HAPPENS!

Justin Lowndes died in May last year following complications from a second lung transplant. A bequest from the 37-years old estate has funded the appointment of the Justin Lowndes Cystic Fibrosis Post Doctoral Research Fellow Dr Caitlin Filby at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.

More than $165,000 has been paid from the estate for CF research, as studies continue into finding a cure for the illness, which also claimed the life of his sister Megan in 1983. Justin’s friends have also made a sizeable contribution to the CF research, by donating to a fund set up by the mountain biker before his death. I had the pleasure of meeting Justin during one of our stays in hospital together and I cannot think of better way for him to help to ensure the health of future generations, I find it typical of his thinking of others even in his time of need.

In 2005, Justin wrote an article Transplant and Beyond for the Cystic Fibrosis Adult newsletter. Penny has given us permission to publish it here.