In August last year, 31-year-old Kate Hatherell from Archway in north London died from a fatal asthma attack while she was out with friends near King’s College Hospital, where she worked.
Kate joined the organ donation register at the age of 17 and her family knew that she would have wanted to donate her organs to benefit the lives of those in need.
Kate, who worked at King’s in an array of different roles, most recently as a multidisciplinary team coordinator, transformed the lives of four others by donating her heart, liver, pancreas and both kidneys.
Kate’s mother, Nicky Hatherell, said: “Kate lived life to the full; she’s the only person we have ever known to be able to pack 25 hours into 24 on a regular basis! She died as she lived – by giving generously.
“Before working at King’s, she worked with me at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and she saw many people she came to think of as friends die waiting for transplants. We knew that she would have wanted to give her organs and were proud to discover that she had registered herself as a donor.
“It’s so important to tell your family about your wishes should you die as they’re the ones who have to make the decision when it comes down to it.
Kate was cared for at the Intensive Care Unit at King’s before she died. Nicky added: “We are so glad that she was in the vicinity of King’s when it happened. It meant that all her friends and colleagues at the hospital were able to say their goodbyes. It was such a privilege to see so many people trooping by her bedside - from top management and consultants right down through the ranks - almost 100 people.”
This week is Organ Donation Week – a national NHS campaign that asks people to talk to their families about organ donation to increase the number of people whose lives can be saved or transformed by a transplant. Nationally, three people die every day in need of an organ, and there are around 1,255 in London on the transplant waiting list.
Families will always be approached about donation if a loved one can donate their organs. Knowing what their loved one would have wanted can help families make a decision at a difficult time.
Currently around 2.6million people in London are on the NHS Organ Donor Register but it is vital that people also tell their family they want to donate because families can refuse to consent, even if the person is on the register.
Mark Whitehouse, a Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation at King’s, who was involved in the organ donation process with Kate’s family, said: “We really need more people in London to have these conversations with their families and talk about organ donation, so that we can increase the number of lifesaving transplants.”