Ann’s son, Mike, sadly died after choking in 2006, aged 31. She feels strongly that all potential donor families should be given the opportunity to consider consenting for organ donation, and must be approached about it by doctors.
Ann’s son, Mike, sadly died after choking, aged 31. Mike had learning difficulties and, when Ann was told he was in hospital, she assumed it would be something related to these. She assumed he;d had a heart attack. He had actually choked and been without oxygen for nineteen minutes.
Mike was admitted to intensive care and it gradually became apparent that he was not going to improve. They were later told that he was unlikely to survive, and this news came as a huge shock.
Because of Mike’s learning difficulties, Ann had made many decisions on his behalf throughout his life. She also made the decision to donate his organs, and was supported by the whole family in this decision.
Ann wondered when the doctors would approach them about organ donation. No one did, so she approached the consultant herself who, she felt, seemed surprised at her question. She wondered if he hadn’t asked them about organ donation because her son had had learning difficulties.
Ann discussed everything with the specialist nurse [donor co-ordinator] and found the form-filling a long, detailed process. She said this was the worst part of the process, though the coordinator was informative, compassionate and supportive. The coordinator later informed them that Mike’s liver had been donated to a 38-year-old married man, who had been given three days to live. She also visited them and brought them a letter of thanks from the laboratories where Mike’s organs had been used to further medical research.
Twice a year, Ann now gives a talk at the local hospital about organ donation and the need for doctors to approach potential donor families even at extremely stressful times. She believes that all hospitals should have these training days as it could increase the number of donor families consenting to organ donation. These sessions are organised by the donor co-ordinator, who Ann said was now a friend.
Ann had not heard from Mike’s liver recipient but said she would love to hear about his welfare. She had looked on the internet at the experiences of recipients and was pleased to learn that many of them had a much better quality of life after transplant.
About a year after Mike’s death, Ann became interested in complementary therapies. She became a Reiki practitioner, and found Reiki very helpful in her own healing. She said it had helped her to accept Mike’s death and to focus on the positives again.
Ann feels that organ donation was something positive to come out of a very difficult situation, and that both recipients and donor families benefit from organ donation. She believes that all potential donor families should be given the opportunity to consider consenting to organ donation and must be approached about it by doctors.