It's National Transplant Awareness Week this week.
Rather than give you a load of statistics I thought I'd write a few quotes down from an interview with a girl that sadly lost her sister, Vicky, but made the brave decision to donate her sister's organs to help other people.
I had a meeting with the head of donor transplant co-ordinators (DTCs) recently as I wanted to find out for myself what the truths and myths of organ donation were. It's difficult to know what to believe what with all the misconceptions flying around. The quotes below are from an article which is the first thing that I've read that seems to be completely factually correct - everything matches up to what the DTC told me and the girl's story is told in a very sensitive way.
So if you are worried about what happens after you're gone and you have decided to donate you organs hopefully this will clear a few things up for you -
'The hospital put my sister and us first every step of the way and our hands were held by the transplant coordinator who explained everything. That process made my Mum realise that organ donation is not just about the organs and the recipients - the donor and donor's family is prioritised. That's very comforting because a lot of people worry, like Mum did, that as soon as the person dies they become like a piece of meat, That's not the case. When they removed Vicky's organs they said they would treat her like a live patient - she was totally respected and was sewn up beautifully. You couldn't tell. The only difference was that she had a flatter stomach - which she would have been very happy about!'
'When I first heard about the accident I'd had this hope that Vicky would be okay and I clung onto that with all my might, but that was taken away from me when I heard how severe her injuries were. But all of a sudden my family and I could cling onto hope for this child and six other people who received Vicky's organs.'
'I was told Vicky's liver had been split into two sections. The larger part had gone to a middle aged woman and the smaller part to a child with chronic liver failure who only had days to live.'
'… it gave us incredible solace to know that not everything of Vicky had gone - her heart, her liver, her lungs, her intestines, her kidneys and her pancreas were helping other people. She was also a tissue donor which is just as important, because while organ donation saves lives, tissue transforms them.'
'It's so comforting knowing that she has helped save the lives of others - I am so proud of her.'
'And it's not only the recipients but also their families who are helped. My Dad pointed out that although we've lost Vicky, we had 23 fantastic years with her. People who are awaiting organs have often been waiting for years. For them and their families it must be like serving a life sentence because they are constantly wondering whether an organ is going to be available and whether they are going to take a turn for the worse before it happens. So while, for a moment, we lost all hope when Vicky died, we were given it all back when we knew her organs were going to all those people. It gave us something to hold onto.'
'We always knew Vicky would make a difference to people, but we never realised how much of a difference. We are incredibly proud of her.'
[Source : Easy Living magazine]
Last night I received the good news that 1 year old Gabrisya had received the heart that she had been waiting all her life for. It's still early days but the donor's family made an amazingly brave decision which has resulted in Gabrisya being given the chance to live.
Photo copyright of Sarah Milne.
If you haven't already, please do sign up to the organ donor register or do it by phone on 0845 606 0400.. And talk to your families, partners, friends about it. It could make all the difference.