Monday, 16 May 2016

Organ Donation - My Story

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.

So here is my story as an organ donors family.


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. 

34 comments:

  1. Huge hugs lovely and thanks for sharing your story. Xxx

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    1. Thank's Sam, it's not something I normally talk about but I suppose it is one of those things not many people know about really xx

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  2. I'm so sorry for the loss of your mum, what an amazing lady. It's fascinating to hear about organ donation and I would definitely make the same decision in your situation.
    Nat.x

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    1. Thank you Natalie, it was a long time ago now. That is lovely to know you would have made the same decision xx

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  3. Oh what an brave and courageous story to write, I had no idea. So sorry for the loss of your Mum but she did an amazing thing and it's wonderful to hear she's helped others live on. Thank you for sharing, lots of love xx

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    1. Thank you Emma, it really was nice knowing she helped others and hear how she had transformed their lives. Makes her death seem a bit less pointless I suppose xx

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  4. Aww! Bless you! Sending massive hugs!
    I'm so sorry. xxxx

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    1. Thank you Kim, it was a long time ago now. I think we just often hear of the person getting a transplant but never the people who donate them xx

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  5. What a big thing to share this - I hope it helped. I can't imagine how awful it must have been to be so young losing her and in such a freak accident.
    I am a blood donor and an organ donor and I hope one day I can help someone. I think it's absolutely wonderful that she helped 4 people get a second chance. What a bloody wonderful woman she really was xxxx

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    1. Thank you Beth, it did I felt much better after writing it all down. It is not something I ever really talk about so was nice to write it down. It is not something people really talk about or know much about is it, you only really hear about people needing transplants. weirdly enough when we were signing the forms to donate mums organs the BBC turned up asking to film us and the operation for a TV show, we said no as I could not think of anything worse. I am on the donor register too, probably should get around to donating blood at some point too xx

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  6. Oh Lindsay, what an incredibly moving post, I was sobbing the whole way through. Such an unbelievably tragic situation to lose your Mam so suddenly, and so young. You and your brother were so brave to make that decision, and I'm sure your Mam would be proud of you. Sending big hugs xxxx

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    1. Oh no sorry Helen, never meant to make you cry! I hope she thinks we made the right decisions, I like to think she does. xx

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  7. I am so so sorry to hear about your mum, but what a truly amazing thing that your mum, and your family did. I am very very passionate about organ donation, and have registered all of us as donors. I very very much hope that none of us never need to be one, but knowing that you can make such a huge difference to someone's life is comforting. I think you should all be so proud of yourselves and your mum for coming to that decision at such a difficult time xx

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    1. That is ok Rachel, was a long time ago now. It really is so comforting and I am registered too xx

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  8. I am so so sorry, I have been in tears reading this. You and your brother were so brave. I think organ donation is so important, I carry an organ donor card and all of my family know my wishes - I feel the same as you - if you are prepared to accept then you should also consider donation. In my mind I see, something good coming out of such a terrible situation - the lives saved by those precious organs.

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    1. That is ok Jenni, sorry it made you cry. That is exactly how I see it too, that something bad can be turned into something good by helping others xx

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  9. Oh Lindsay I am so, so sorry to read this. How hard it must have been for you and your family to lose your Mum like that. I have no words. I am so sorry for your loss. But you're right organ donation is so important and how lovely that your Mum got to save these people, she would be proud I'm sure xxxx

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    1. Thank's Laura, I find it very comforting knowing she did not die for no reason and that she somehow helped others xx

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  10. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a tough thing to go through. So pleased that you were able to donate and help others.

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    1. That is ok Nyomi, it was a long time ago and I like to think that it has made me realise how precious life is and to enjoy it xx

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  11. What a beautifully written post. I am sorry for the loss of you mum, I can't even begin to imagine how hard that was to go through. Big hugs x

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  12. Oh Lindsay i'm so sorry that you lost your mum so young and in such heart breaking way. I can't even imagine what you've been through. Well done for publishing your story. It must have been hard to put your story out there but it will help and inspire other people to give the gift of life in a time of tragedy. I think writing this you will have saved lives by making people agree to organ donation.

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    1. Thank you Sarah, I really do hope that it helps other people think about this subject as not many people talk about it xx

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  13. Thanks for sharing your story, I can not even imagine what it must have been like and what a courageous decision.

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  14. Speaking from someone who has lived the other side with a MIL who waited for a year for a lung transplant before losing her battle I can only thank you and your family though tear filled eyes for the lives your mother saved and changed. You are very brave for telling your story xxx

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  15. I am so sorry to hear about your mum. Sending you virtual hugs.

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  16. Goodness what a brave decision to make at that time. I have my organ donation card in my purse and family know of my wishes.

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  17. Oh gosh. I am so sorry for your loss. Your mum sounds like an amazing lady; what an absolutely heartbreaking thing for you and your brother to have to go through at such a young age. I have a donor card too, I think its so important. Sending lots of love xx

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  18. Wow thanks for sharing that was a really brave and nice thing to do.

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  19. Thank you for sharing this. It is very true that you never hear the other side of the story. Such a brave thing to do but I am sure it will be very helpful. So sad that you lost your mum at such a young age and so tragically.

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  20. I think you've done a great thing in sharing your mum's story hun. So, so tragic that she passed away so young and amazing that she saved those other people. I think this is really inspirational to show people the importance of being an organ doner xx

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  21. What a heartbreaking story, it must have been so hard learning that she would not last the night from a freak accident. How difficult it would have been to lose her It really shows how hard it is to be an organ donor and how hard that is for the family. Thanks for sharing

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  22. So glad you shared this post even though it must have been so hard to write. When my dad died last year, we were unable to donate any of his organs as he'd been so ill for a few weeks with on/off sepsis infections etc. That was a double-blow on the day he died because I wanted him to live on in other people, and it's what he would have wanted but at least we tried... I think it's so important and I'm glad you got to do it, thanks for sharing and hopefully you will inspire other people to do the same xxx

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