Kerri Cargill suffers from a heart and lung condition and is waiting for a heart-lung transplant.

Kerri Cargill suffers from a heart and lung condition and is waiting for a heart-lung transplant. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Kerri Cargill doesn't want to read a sob story about herself.

She is confident her mobile telephone will ring with the news that she should travel immediately to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney to undergo a double-lung and heart transplant.

''Any day now, I feel like it will happen,'' the 43-year-old says.

''I don't know why, but I just think it will. And they've warned me it's going to be really, really tough. It's going to be hell, but I can

do it.''

Ms Cargill is a rare find: a fourth-generation Canberran. She is a descendant of D. W. Cargill, whose dairy disappeared under Lake Burley Griffin, and John Gale, the Queanbeyan newspaperman known as the Father of Canberra.

Ms Cargill's biggest regret about an extended hospital stay after transplant surgery is being away from her home town.

''Gosh, I'll miss Canberra, but I'll come back a new girl,'' she says.

Ms Cargill was born with an endocardial cushion defect that caused holes in her heart.

She has been a registered nurse at the Canberra Hospital for 18 years and until June was co-ordinating the Health Directorate's graduate nurse program. For eight years the ''miracle'' trial drug Bosentan helped keep her in good health by opening her airwaves.

But last year pulmonary hypertension left her on the organ transplant waiting list and dependent on an oxygen tank for several hours a day.

Ms Cargill is now living with her parents, Vicki and Roger, in their Garran home.

As they prepare to participate in the annual DonateLife Walk with family and friends on Wednesday, the Cargills hope that after reading about Kerri, more Canberrans will discuss with their loved ones whether they would be willing to be organ donors.

Ms Cargill says she is frequently overwhelmed by the kindness of friends and colleagues, and by the courtesy strangers in the street display when she looks unwell.

''People actually move out of the way and they smile.''

She wishes ''we were like that to everybody all the time'', and not just because someone is using an oxygen bottle or showing other signs of being unwell.

■ DonateLife Week 2013 started on Sunday and runs until next Sunday. Information on organ and tissue donation can be found at donatelife.gov.au. More information on the DonateLife Walk is available at giftoflife.asn.au