You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Why Jersey Day will always be a cause close to Cleary's heart

Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary will always be grateful that he was in a position to donate a kidney to his older brother five years ago, but knows not everyone is so lucky.

Back in 2017 Ash Cleary's need for a replacement kidney became urgent as he battled with kidney disease, with Ivan emerging as a compatible match following tests, and subsequently donating one of his kidneys to his sibling.   

Had that not been the case, Ash, like many other Australians who require organ or tissue transplants, would have relied on a non-family donation.

Ahead of Jersey Day this Friday, September 2 - which aims to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation in Australia - Ivan spoke about his first-hand experience with the important cause. 

"The idea is they go to family first as it's much more likely to get a match, [but] there’s a list of other things they have to line up for that to happen, and that's where Jersey Day comes in," Cleary said. 

It shows how important it is for people to at least be aware of what donating their organs can do for people.

Ivan Cleary

"It's maybe apathy, or probably something people don't really know or think about too much, but there's so many people who need them and if there are more available then the more lives that we can all enrich."

Cleary said it was important to remember that organ and tissue donation wishes are not included on driver licences anymore, meaning people need to register their wishes at

The Premiership-winning coach also spoke about the need to discuss the topic with your family, as in the event of your passing it will ultimately be your next of kin who decide whether your wishes will be honoured.

“Definitely, as a family we have all spoken about it since my brother and what he went through," Ivan said.

"We’re all into it. I think that it's just about awareness. It’s awareness about how easy it is to register as a donor and awareness about how you can actually help people, and the number people actually needing it."

Five years on from the transplant, Ivan said he is grateful to have been able to play a role in his brother enjoying an improved quality of life, and to be able to lend his voice to the cause. 

"Privileged if I'm honest, [Ash] was always saying how grateful he was but I actually honestly got a lot out of it myself," Ivan said. 

"It was a nice experience for all of our family actually and I’m pleased to say he’s doing really well." 

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.