Organ donation

Sue - Interview 18

Age at interview: 51

Brief outline: Sue's son, Martin, sadly died of a brain haemorrhage in 2003, aged 16. Working with different charities, she is now heavily involved in raising awareness of organ donation and supporting bereaved parents.

Background: Sue is a costs lawyer. She is married and has an adult son. Ethnic background / nationality' White British

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Sue’s son, Martin, sadly died of a brain haemorrhage in 2003, aged 16. He had always been healthy. Unexpectedly, he collapsed at home around 2am. Sue was on her own. Her husband, Martin’s dad, had gone to America for work. She was unable to rouse Martin and immediately called for an ambulance.

At the hospital, Sue was told that Martin had had a severe brain haemorrhage. A brain haemorrhage is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition where blood leaks out of blood vessels over the surface of the brain. Martin was transferred from the local hospital to a city hospital. After surgery to try and stop the bleeding, he was admitted to intensive care where the bleed started again and he was taken back into theatre. They were told that Martin had had a congenital condition (a condition existing at and often before birth) called arteriovenous malfunction of the brain (AVM). This had caused the brain haemorrhage.

Sue, her parents, Martin’s brother and his girlfriend, were then told that, ‘The bleed was just too extensive, and there was nothing that could be done. We were asked immediately if we would ever consider organ donation... Martin had always wanted to nurse, and we believed and I still believe that it would have been his wish to have done something, if he could. My belief was, even at that point, that if I could save any other mother going through what I was going through, then that was something positive to come out of it. So we immediately agreed.’

Sue’s husband flew back from America as soon as possible. It was a traumatic time for all of them and difficult without him there.

Going through the organ donation paperwork was time consuming and Sue said it was the worst part of the process because it took so long. Martin’s heart was donated to a fifteen-year-old boy and his liver to a young man with a family. Sue and her husband met the liver recipient twice and hear from him regularly.

Sue is now very much involved in working with the Donor Family Network, a charity run by donor families that aims to support donor families and promote organ and tissue donation (http'//

 Sue and her husband attend the British Transplant Games annually and are also involved in a local committee that aims to promote organ donation. Soon after Martin’s death, Sue also got involved in an organisation for bereaved parents because she wanted to talk to other people who had been through something similar. She now hosts a support group for bereaved parents, a group which is part of The Compassionate Friends, a charity dedicated to supporting bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents (http'//


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