As her Shortland Street character Brooke searches for a kidney donor, actress Beth Allen says the latest storyline forced her to put herself in the shoes of a New Zealand sporting legend.
“I read the Woman’s Weekly article about Jonah Lomu and how his kidneys have failed, and it just sounds like such a difficult way to live,” says Beth.
“I was really touched by how his children play around him while he is having dialysis treatment. I know I would really struggle if it were me, but he is showing such strength.”
The 29-year-old researched the issue – and was shocked to discover how hard it is to organ donate in New Zealand.
“The chances of actually getting a kidney are low. You basically have to be brain dead in a hospital on life support before you can be a donor.
Even if you have elected to be a donor on your driver’s licence, your family still has the option to say no.
“It’s made me think that if I am ever brain dead and on life support, I really want them to take my organs – I won’t miss them.”
As her character grapples with the possibility of her mentally unstable sister Bree (Rachael Blampied) donating a kidney, Beth says she loves taking ruthless Brooke to a vulnerable place. And with Bree back on the scene, the actress hints there is more trouble ahead, as the show moves towards its dramatic season finale.
Beth, who is currently also starring in Auckland’s Basement Theatre production of Between the Sheets, says she and the Shortland Street cast are “counting down the days” until their staff Christmas party – then she will be taking a well-earned break.
“This summer, I’m going to the Coromandel – and I’m looking forward to just sitting still for 10 days and reading.”