Sophie, Paramedic, Southampton
My brother Jack was killed in June 2019 following a collision on the A32 in Hampshire.
It’s been hard for my Mum, his older brother, twin sister and I, grieving for Jack but without having the positivity of knowing how Jack helped others by being an organ donor, it would have been even harder.
“Jack was 22-years-old when he died and was the most laid-back, kind and caring guy you could ever meet; everyone loved him. His accident left him with a severe brain injury and we were told pretty much after the first CT scan at hospital that it wasn’t survivable.
My Dad had passed away two years previously and at the time, we as a family had a conversation about our wishes after death. So we knew that Jack had signed up as an organ donor and we were the ones to bring it up with the team on the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit at Southampton where Jack was.
They put us in touch with the hospital’s organ donation team who were brilliant; there wasn’t any pressure on us, they answered all our questions and helped us through the paperwork.
We were together as a family as Jack was made ready for surgery and we realised that as we were saying our goodbyes, around the country other families were coming together because their loved one was getting another chance of life.
After the surgery, we were able to see Jack in the Chapel of Rest and you couldn’t tell he’d had been operated on. He looked like he was asleep and a normal, whole person which I hope might help other families in the future if they are anxious about seeing a loved one after donation.
Before joining SCAS, I worked on the Gastrointestinal and Hepatology Ward at Southampton which looks after patients with liver failure and kidney disease. I’ve seen the struggle such people have just to stay alive so it’s nice to know that for some people like that, as well as others with life-limiting diseases and conditions, Jack’s death has meant their struggle is over.
I know it’s an amazing legacy that Jack would have been very happy with.”
Jack’s heart went to a man in his 50s; his liver to a man in his 30s; his pancreas and one kidney to a man in his 30s; his other kidney to another man in his 30s and his knee joint to a cancer sufferer. Other donations Jack made, such as his corneas, take time to be made ready for transplantation so the family will be contacted again in the future once those donations have been given to someone else.
Next year, the law around organ donation is changing in England. From spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.
Even after the law has changed, families will continue to be approached before organ donation goes ahead. Knowing what their relative wanted, helps families support their decision at a difficult time.
Find out more and register your decision by visiting NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk and share your decision with your family.