I once had an organ donor’s card, but mislaid it years ago.
I had given its loss no thought until two weeks ago, and we were faced with a family tragedy. I rarely talk publicly about my family in any circumstances.
It’s the only way, in my view, to protect their privacy.
But I am breaking my own rule now, because I think there’s a wider point to be made; and in any event a person’s death is itself a matter of public record.
My sister Suzy was fit and healthy, or so it seemed.
Aged 67, she usually passed for 50, or less.
She was single, had never had children, and lived life to the full.
Unbeknown to her, or anyone else, she had a weak heart. While staying with friends in Edinburgh three-and-a-half weeks ago, she collapsed from heart failure.
She was lucky to be close to one of the best hospitals in Europe.
She spent 12 hours in the operating theatre.
There was a fair chance that she might have been saved.
But after nine days in intensive care it was clear that she could never recover.
She had made a “Living Will” which gave clear instructions that in such circumstances she did not wish her life needlessly to be prolonged.
She died the following day.
Suzy had also registered as an organ donor.
We, Suzy’s next of kin, were asked our views.
It was Suzy’s wish that her healthy organs should be used to help others.
Who were we to object?
The eye which was then removed is, we hope, now giving new sight to its recipient.
The transplant team handled the whole matter with great sensitivity; and there was no disfigurement discernible to her face.
The whole experience has brought me up sharp, with the importance of as many people as possible registering as donors – me included.
Organ donation can always improve the quality of others’ lives and, in some cases, save lives altogether.