Organ donation

Linda - Interview 25

Age at interview: 48

Brief outline: Linda's husband, John, sadly died of two brain haemorrhages in 2007, aged 50. Linda advised people to talk about organ donation with their families as these decisions are very difficult to make under stress when someone suddenly becomes critically ill.

Background: Linda is a bank manager and has a son. Ethnic background / nationality' White British.

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Linda’s husband, John, sadly died of two brain haemorrhages shortly after his 50th birthday in 2007. She and their 12-year-old son came home to find John collapsed on the floor. He was immediately taken by ambulance to their local hospital. Here, they were told that an aneurysm had led to two major brain haemorrhages and that John was unlikely to survive. A brain haemorrhage is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition, where blood leaks out of blood vessels over the surface of the brain.

Linda had always carried a donor card but did not know if John was in favour of organ donation. She advised other people to talk about organ donation with their families as these decisions are very difficult to make under stress when someone suddenly becomes critically ill.

Linda and her son discussed organ donation with a nurse, as well as alone, and were both in favour of donating John’s organs to allow others to live and have a better quality of life.  Linda felt strongly about meeting the surgeon before the donation took place and said, ‘We met in the corridor outside of where John was taken to. And this man let me tell him for probably about five minutes, but he allowed me to tell him how special my husband was; that I needed him to be treated with respect. And they needed to take care of him because it was going to be out of my hands. I couldn’t do anymore. But it was so important for me. I felt like I was speaking on behalf of John to, you know, well do you know what, I’m giving these organs up. But I’m still a human being, I’m still a husband and a father.’

Shortly after John’s death, Linda and her son each received a letter telling them that John’s kidneys, liver and heart valves had been donated. One of the kidney recipients had experienced complications and the kidney had rejected. An eight-year-old child received the heart valves. Linda said she’d been unprepared for the fact that some of John’s recipients would be older than John himself. She found the first letter from one of the recipients particularly difficult to read, but appreciated the good that had come from the donation after the initial distress.

After John’s death, Linda and her son spent about two weeks at Linda’s parent’s home, and had a lot of support from family. She later joined a support group called the WAY Foundation, that aimed to support young men and women who had become widowed (http'// Her employers were also supportive, and Linda was able to take five months off work and have a phased return when she did go back. Through her employer she received five face-to-face counselling sessions. Almost a year after John’s death, Linda said she gained comfort from a reading given by a spiritual medium.   

Linda said that her son coped very well with the death of his father. In hindsight, she was particularly grateful to advice given by a health professional to involve him in his father’s death. Linda said John would be proud of their son, as she herself is.

Some time after John’s death, Linda became involved in raising awareness of organ donation and took part in interviews for radio and the local newspaper. 


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