Monday, July 24, 2006

Please be an organ donor

We've been shattered for the past week as a very close friend of my wife and I died suddenly from a stroke.

Our special friend for the last 33 years was wonderful, generous and kind to everyone in life and was the same even as she faced her own death. She was an organ donor and as she was conscious for awhile after the stroke in hospital she made sure her husband and family would carry out her wishes. When she became brain dead her body was kept alive on a ventilator for a further day so the best outcome for her organ usage would ensue. This also had the indirect benefit of allowing time for family and close friends to sit with her and say a final goodbye. We can now tell you from experience that although a very sad event, it is nice to sit and hold the warm hand of a loved one, whose heart still beats, whose chest still rises and falls as her lungs breathe air, whose normal face just looks like someone taking a nap.

Our friend also has a wonderful family. They allowed the transplant medics to ensure a good outcome and it's quite a quick process - a day or less. But there are now two people who have use of our friend's kidneys and another who carries her liver. So three people have been given life from our friends organs which were no use to her in death. This in turn releases vital hospital machines to help further people. It seems there are only a total of about 300 organ transplants per year in Ireland and our friend is responsible for three of these. She could even have given her lungs and heart also except there were no suitable recipients of the right size (she was a small lady). So you can see how one person simply carrying an organ donor card can make a big difference.

There is a lot of grief going around us all as our special friend was far too young to die (51, and indeed biologically and visibly was much younger). My thoughts are constantly with her husband who is my best pal and their four terrific children. But her generosity to others in death is truly of help in dealing with the pain and is a lasting legacy. To give multiple people life from your own death just by agreeing to be an organ donor has to make sense to everyone. But remember, it's equally important to have your family's co-operation, it's useless being an organ donor if your next of kin will not also give their consent when the vital time comes.

Please be an organ donor and encourage others to do it also. I've seen the benefits, it's truly remarkable. And lastly, make sure you enjoy life and all your loved ones, the unexpected can happen all to easily.

Written with kind permission of my best pal


missmellifluous said...

Oh! John of DUblin! My heart aches for you, your family and your best friend and his family. I am so sorry to hear of your sad loss. My prayers are with you all.

It is great that this special woman could give life to others. Thank you for the reminder. You'll be glad to know I am an organ donor.

You have my most sincere sympathies.

Claire said...

I'm so sorry for your loss John. What a tragedy to lose somebody like that and for her family too.

It must be some comfort to know that she helped so many. I've carried a donor card since I was a teenager and I also have it checked on my driver's license. It seems such a small thing to do that can make such a difference.

Sinéad said...

John, that's so sad, I'm very sorry to hear that.

Like Claire, I've carried a donor card since my teens. My first hand experience of leukemia also made me aware that people can sign up to be 'living donors' and register to be a bone marrow donor.

John of Dublin said...

Thanks Missmellifluous, Claire and Sinead. You are all great to be organ donors for so long. It's something which I never gave much thought to until this happened. I'm sure you will keep encouraging others.

Sinead, I had read a blog from you before about your own challenging experience with leukemia. I wasn't aware of the "living donor" bone marrow possibilities. I'm going to look into that and encourage others, thanks.

Ham said...


Thanks for the lovely things you said. Your appeal is very worthwhile. Keep up the good work. Yours ever Bro.

Paul Moore said...

As usual, nicely written John. I've also carried a donor with me for the past 25 years.