• To produce a documentary of the real-life story of an Aboriginal man facing kidney failure and considering his options for a kidney donor transplant.
  • To effectively illustrate the difficult issues Aboriginal people with kidney disease - particularly those from remote areas - face when determining their treatment options

Transplant Story: A Personal Journey is a documentary made in response to a request from a young man who wanted to show the impact of kidney disease on Aboriginal people from remote areas. When Ronald Morgan (Ronno) was four years old, he became the first Aboriginal child to receive a mother to child kidney transplant. 24 years later that kidney failed and Ronno was facing the prospect of relocating thousands of miles away from his home and family in order to commence dialysis.

Menzies has filmed and documented his real-life journey showing what it means to face kidney failure, being displaced from community and separated from family and the challenging processes associated with kidney transplantation.

Ronno hoped this documentary would assist other Aboriginal patients and their families develop a better understanding of kidney health, available treatment options and how to engage with and negotiate the health system.

The documentary was made by award winning film maker Brendan Fletcher and Paul Bell who have a long standing relationship with the family.

Filming commenced in early 2013 and followed Ronno on an often tumultuous journey, as his clinical condition and treatment requirements dictated his movements between his home community of Wyndham and Perth.

On Mother’s day in 2014 Ronno received a deceased donor kidney transplant, providing a bitter sweet end to this documentary.  

Implications for policy and practice:

Documenting this journey serves two key kidney education purposes: it will provide a resource that enables patients to explore key concepts with healthcare providers; and will provide the backbone on which to develop useful educational resources that address issues in communication between clinicians and Aboriginal patients. 

Our research has found:  

Each year more than 13,000 Australians die with kidney failure. Aboriginal people are ten times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to develop severe kidney failure. In remote areas, rates are up to 40 times higher than the national average. Haemodialysis is the most common form of therapy for Aboriginal Australians and is not only expensive and invasive but usually requires people living in rural and remote locations to relocate for treatment. This has an enormous impact on families and communities. 

 A kidney transplant offers the best quality of life for a person with kidney disease. It is the lowest cost option and offers the best result of all treatment options however less than one in 20 transplants are allocated to Aboriginal Australians.

Chief investigator: 
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Project dates:

This project commenced in January 2013 and was completed in 2016.

  • Merck Sharp and Dohme Australia
  • Amgen Australia.

The documentary will provide the backbone from which a number of projects will rise including educational information for Indigenous people with renal disease and cross cultural information for health science students and clinicians.

Menzies is pursuing both funding and partners to further this work. For further information, contact Gillian Gorham.


  • Barefoot Films – Brendan Fletcher
  • Feral Films – Paul Bell
  • Royal Perth Hospital
  • Morgan Family.

This documentary will be released at the Garma Festival in East Arnhem in August 2015. A national release on Australian TV is currently being negotiated with ABC television.