Michael and Jacqui Booty join Marleen Bates for lavender tea and scones.
Michael and Jacqui Booty join Marleen Bates for lavender tea and scones. Michael

Former Kingaroy woman keeps on keeping on

JACQUI Booty has lived a life that proves you should never let hardship and illness stop you from chasing dreams.

At an early age the former Kingaroy woman developed Bright's Disease, which forced her kidneys to work overtime.

By the time she was in her mid-20s the stress resulted in kidney failure and doctors gave her just eight months to live.

They went so far as to tell her then fiance Michael to put their marriage on hold.

Mrs Booty had to undergo her first round of dialysis, which lasted about four months, before a transplant was found.

It was during this time Mrs Booty had the first of five strokes.

"At that time kidney transplants were in their infancy,” she said.

The Brisbane hospitals weren't equipped to handle the large number of patients needing dialysis so Mrs Booty was transferred to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The Victorian hospital put her on dialysis and sourced a donor kidney.

"When they finally removed my kidneys, they were the size of walnuts,” Mrs Booty said.

This early treatment saved Mrs Booty's life but not everyone with failing kidneys was so lucky.

"Because the selection process for both dialysis and transplants were so stringent we got to know a whole lot of people who weren't accepted to the program,” Mrs Booty said.

After the treatment Mrs Booty become a teacher.

Her first posting was to the Kingaroy State High School, before she was transferred to Brisbane and then the Narbethong State Special School.

She spent 30 years at the school teaching vision-impaired students.

Mrs Booty received a Masters in Eduction, specialising in teaching the blind to read.

She became a braille expert and worked with Vision Australia to train teachers.

Her area of speciality was teaching maths in braille.

She lectured at Griffith University and was called to represent Queensland when the Australian Braille Standard was updated.

In 1995 Mrs Booty travelled to England to help with the early efforts to computerise braille.

Two years later she did the same thing in the US and was given a lifetime achievement award by the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities.

As anti-rejection drugs harm a patient's kidneys, after 33 years Mrs Booty's donor organ was damaged beyond repair.

It has since been removed and she has lived these past 13 years without a kidney.

Her husband Michael administers the weekly courses of dialysis at their home.

Despite the hindrance Mrs Booty said life on dialysis can still be rich and fulfilling.

The couple have two daughters, one who lives in the United Kingdom and Mrs Booty is able to visit and take advantage of a medical reciprocity deal.

"I can travel to England and use their dialysis,” she said.

A few times each year, Jacqui and Michael return to Kingaroy for a cup of lavender tea and a plate of scones at the Pottique Lavender Farm with their long-time friend Marleen Bates.

The two women went to school in Kingaroy, and are united in their devotion to their respective churches.

Mrs Booty said the church and its congregation had helped her through the difficult times.

"I think there was strong faith that believed it wasn't my time,” Mrs Booty said.

"Deep down you have a faith that somehow we must pull through.”

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