Organ donation

Jackie - Interview 21

Age at interview: 71

Brief outline: Jackie's son, Lyall, sadly died after a road traffic accident in 1996, aged 16. Lyall gave the gift of life to six people and sight to two. Jackie has been keen to raise awareness of organ donation and met two of Lyall's recipients.

Background: Jackie is a retired community midwife. She is widowed. Ethnic background / nationality' White British.

Audio & video


Jackie’s son, Lyall, sadly died after a road traffic accident in 1996, aged 16. When a policeman called round completely out of the blue, he told her that Lyall had had head injuries. At the hospital, she was told that he was in intensive care. An MRI scan had showed he’d had extensive brain damage, which he would not survive. Brain stem tests the following morning confirmed that Lyall was no longer alive. 

 Jackie knew that Lyall was in favour of organ donation because, at the age of eight, he had asked her about her donor card and what it meant. She consented to organ donation. 

Back at home, Jackie was in a state of shock and disbelief. The following morning, however, she made herself do the weekly shopping and face people she came across at the supermarket. She felt that the longer she left or postponed it, the harder it would be.

 The following day, Jackie wanted to see Lyall, which she did. He looked asleep. Jackie praised the healthcare he’d received and said he’d been treated with respect and dignity.

 Jackie and her husband organised a humanist funeral and she was amazed at the turnout, including three head teachers from Lyall’s school. 

 There was a long wait until the inquest, which Jackie understandably found very difficult. Like many people, she had no idea what it would involve. On the day of the inquest, she asked her solicitor to pass on a message to the driver of the car in the accident. She said, ‘I explained to the solicitor, please tell the driver that we have no hard feelings, because evidently he [Lyall] just walked straight out in front of the car. The driver didn’t have a chance to stop. And the thought that he might be again suffering dreadfully and I said to them, “Look, one good thing is that he’s been a multiple organ donor – the gift of life for six and sight for two is not a bad epitaph for a sixteen year old.”      

About a week after Lyall’s death, Jackie received a letter from one of the recipient’s mothers. Jackie replied to her and mentioned that she would like to meet her daughter, the recipient, if she felt willing to do so. She and the recipient spoke on the phone several times and, six months later, met up. They keep in touch regularly.

Jackie also heard from and met the recipient of Lyall’s liver, who was doing very well since the transplant. She heard, too, from the recipient of one of Lyle’s kidneys who, because of the transplant, was now well enough to enjoy quality time with his grandchildren.

Jackie received a lot support from her colleagues, as well as letters from Lyall’s friends and their parents. Her husband, Lyall’s dad, found it difficult to talk about or come to terms with his feelings and became depressed. Jackie wished he’d been able to talk to other men who had been through something similar. 

About six months after  Lyall’s death, Jackie appeared on several TV programmes where the subject of organ donation was highlighted. She appeared with one of   Lyall’s recipients. She later met another of his recipient’s on TV too.

Around 1996, Jackie was approached by a local journalist to take part in an article about organ donation, along with other participants. She said 1000 people registered for organ donation following this publicity. Jackie is very keen to raise awareness of organ donation and is in favour of presumed consent (opt-out).   


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