You always hear in the news and on TV about people who are waiting for an organ transplant, or from people who have had an organ transplant and how it has transformed their lives. You never really hear about the person who has donated the organ, or the family they have left behind. That's the thing with organ donation whilst it is wonderful and life changing and a gift for someone to donate an organ, they normally have to die in order for you to receive that much needed organ.
Saturday marked the 11th anniversary since my very much loved Mam died, she was 44 when she died. She died in a freak accident, she was at my house visiting my then 2 year old daughter Chloe who she doted on. She was coming down the stairs from the bathroom and somehow slipped and fell down the stairs, she hit her head and never woke up.
I rang an ambulance and I honestly thought she was just concussed and would be fine. Myself and my brother had to go to hospital. We were put in a side room like they do in casualty and left for hours, not knowing what was going on. Hours later they came to see us and told us that she has suffered catastrophic brain injuries, there was nothing they could do she was in intensive care on life support and the kindest thing would be to let her go that night.
Those few words turned my whole life upside down, they were not what I was expecting to hear. How can someone you love so dearly be fine and there one minute then just hours later you are being told you have to turn machines off and let them die?
We went to see her in intensive care, its not a vary nice place. Machines everywhere, I could not hug her or kiss her or hold her hand as there was tubes and wires everywhere even though she just looked like she was sleeping. They removed her jewellery and gave me it, I still have it now as it is all I have left of her.
We were told to go home and rest, my brother and me I was 21 he was 19, still so young to be losing are Mam. We were told to tell family if they wanted to say goodbye to get to the hospital quick, in case she died that night. We went home but we didn't sleep, we returned to the hospital the next day and spent some time with her. She looked different, she no longer looked like she was asleep, we could tell she was gone.
They have to do tests before they can turn off the machines, we had to wait for no signs of brain function. The next day their was none. It was time to say goodbye and turn the machines off. They asked us if we had thought about organ donation, the decision was left up to me and my brother as my parents were divorced so we were next of kin. We said yes to organ donation, we did not want anyone else to go through what we were. Our dad and Mam's family all agreed, apparently years ago she had said she would need to fill in a donor card as she was a terrible driver.
A Transplant coordinator came to see us, a lovely Irish man named Gordon, funny how you remember these things. He spoke to us for ages explaining everything, we said they could take anything apart from her eyes. Mam hated her eyes being touched.
Once the forms were filled in it was time to say goodbye, that's the thing with organ donation when the machines go off your not there, as they go off in theatre when they remove the organs. You have to go and say bye and then leave, so they can do the tests and get things ready for the transplants to take place.
That was the worse bit, not being there when she died, that still hurts now. We did say goodbye though, it broke my heart seeing my little brother say goodbye to her and my daughter shouting at her to wake up Nana and seeing my own Nana saying goodbye to her daughter. I can't imagine what it must have been like for her losing a child like that, every parents worse nightmare.
Then we went home and we waited for news. News to say Mam had gone, that she was at peace now. The next day we got a call she died at 10 pm, they took what organs they could as most had been damaged from the life support machines. My Mam saved four lives, two adults and two children. I will always be proud of her for that.
Week's later the transplant coordinator came to see us at home, to let us know how the operation went and about the people who had received the organs. A women who got a kidney wrote to us, to say thank you and tell us how her life had been transformed. She wrote about how she could see her son get married and take her grandchild to Disneyland. I never wrote back as my Mam always wanted to take my daughter to Disneyland and would never see her own children marry. Now I am glad someone so like my Mam was helped from her death.
In reality knowing my Mam helped others in her death, did help. It felt like she did not die for no reason, it was a comfort knowing little parts of her were living on in others. I don't ever regret the decision to donate her organs.
I like to think that if someone in my family ever needed an organ someday then someone would be kind enough to donate one. I believe that if we are prepared to accept an organ then we should be prepared to donate an organ, if the time ever came. If I ever end up on life support and my family get asked then they know that I am happy for them to donate my organs.
This is my experience of donating my Mams organs, I did find it comforting and I am proud of her. I miss her every single day, she was my best friend and so kind and funny. She taught me to be a Mam and that life is so incredibly precious. I see so much of her in my middle daughter Sophia, she likes all the things my Mam liked and has my Mams personality. My Mam was called Lesley she was 44 when she died, she helped other people live after her death and I couldn't be more prouder of her.
My Mam taught me that one wrong step really can change your life forever and that life is a gift that we should never take for granted.