Organ Donation Week aims to raise awareness of organ donation, celebrating its benefits, encourage people to have conversations about organ donation with their families, and get more people to sign up to the register.
Over the last five years 150 families with loved ones in critical care at King’s have said yes to organ donation and this has resulted in over 500 lifesaving and life transforming transplants.
It’s quick and easy to join the NHS Organ Donor Register – simply visit the Organ Donation Register website or call the 24/7 telephone service on 0300 123 23 23.
24-year-old Craig was a fit and healthy sportsman and was best known for his sense of humour.
On 14 April 2013 Craig had a brain haemorrhage while at home with his parents. He was put into an induced coma and flown to King’s where he had emergency surgery. Craig survived for a few hours following the surgery, but was sadly soon declared brain-dead.
The organ donation coordinators at King’s came to meet with Craig’s family, talked to them about the processes and explained what would happen if they decided to donate his organs.
Craig’s mum, Christine, said: “The coordinators handled the conversation so sensitively, and we knew straight away that we’d donate his organs, as he would have wanted us to and it would have been a tragedy if we didn’t give the ‘gift of life’ to someone who needed that chance.”
Aimee, Craig’s girlfriend, was also very closely involved in making the decision. She said: “I always think to myself, that on that day our prayers couldn’t be answered, but someone else’s were.”
Craig wasn’t on the Organ Donation Register, but he had talked to his family about joining it. Craig’s kidneys, pancreas and heart saved the lives of three young men.
Linda Fraser was diagnosed with Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC), an autoimmune condition, in 1995.
PBC causes the body’s immune system to turn on itself and start attacking the small bile ducts attached to the liver.
Eight years later Linda had a liver transplant at King’s. She has since trained as a mentor at King’s and is a member of the LISTEN support group, talking to patients who are about to have a liver transplant or those who have recently had one.
She said: “I am forever grateful for the expertise of King’s, and especially thankful for the donor family. I get huge satisfaction from being able to support and reassure people that there is life after liver disease.”
Three-year-old Georgia Fieldsend sadly died on Christmas Day 2013, from a ruptured brain aneurysm, while on holiday in Egypt.
Even though doctors feared there was nothing they could do, she was flown to King’s and put on a life-support machine. On arrival, Georgia’s parents, Ilse and James, were told that Georgia had irreversible brain damage and could not be revived.
Before saying goodbye to their daughter, the couple decided to donate Georgia’s organs in the hope that their heart-breaking loss would give the gift of life to others. They later learned that their daughter had saved four lives through the donation of her liver, kidneys and heart valves. Georgia’s corneas have also given sight to two men in their 20s.
Georgia’s mum, Ilse, said: “Georgia, aged three and a half, gave the gift of life and will continue to do so. Our beautiful daughter will keep on giving life, hope, love and happiness back to so many families. Although our hearts are broken, other parents’ hearts are filled with overwhelming joy and love, because their children were given a chance at life.”
Maureen Harris was diagnosed with Primary Biliary Cholangitis, aged 42. Eight years later the time came that she needed a liver transplant.
Maureen said: “I’ll never stop being grateful to my donor and her family. Thanks to my donor I was given the gift of life. Because of her gift I have had all these wonderful years. I have done my best to make the most of each day, and to live life to the fullest.”
Like Linda, Maureen also volunteers for the LISTEN support group at King’s.