As part of Organ Donation Week 2022, which is taking place between 26th September and 2nd October this year, a local family have shared their first-hand experience of organ donation.
Rob and Sue Edwards, from Newport, lost their beloved son, Jamie, in 2017 after he suffered a catastrophic brain injury following an epilepsy-induced fall at home at just 25 years old, and say that being able to donate his organs was their only source of comfort after his death.
Following their difficult loss, Mr and Mrs Edwards didn’t have to think for too long about the next question they were asked- whether they knew if Jamie was on the register to donate his organs and tissue.
Jamie’s Dad, Rob Edwards, said:
“It’s something we knew he wanted, at whatever age he was. Of course, when he joined the Organ Donation Register, I don’t think he expected to be donating so soon, but we were certain of his decision.
“What’s the point in taking something with you that you don’t need? We told them they could take what they needed. The way they did everything at the hospital was fantastic.”
Among some of Jamie’s donations were his kidneys, as well as some of his tissue.
Speaking of the experience, Rob said: “You do feel better. It brings some comfort and it’s the only positive thing you can take out of something so devastating, which is why we only see it as a positive thing that Jamie was able to donate his organs.”
After witnessing the process first hand, the experience had such a lasting effect on Jamie’s parents that it encouraged them to ensure they were also on the Organ Donation register themselves.
Rob said: “A few days after Jamie passed away and had donated his organs, myself and Sue both updated our details to make sure we’re opted in to donate our organs as well.”
Sharon Keightley is a Specialist Organ Donation Nurse covering the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area.
Read all about her role below..
My name is Sharon, but I'm known as Shazza to everyone. I am a Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation (lovingly known as a SNOD!) and I am part of the South Wales Organ Donation Team.
I have been in my role for just over 3 years, having worked in the Intensive Care Unit for many years before that. I am now based at the Intensive Care Unit at The Grange University Hospital as a SNOD. Level 3 Intubated Patients are referred to us when a decision is taken to withdraw Life Sustaining Treatment. We will look on the Organ Donation Register to see if a decision has been registered.
We talk to the family to establish the last known decision they know of regarding organ donation, and if there is a registration found on the Organ Donation Register, we ask the Next of Kin to support the decision made, such as OPT-IN, then myself and my Team will support them through the process. Even if they are an OPT-OUT, we will support the family and staff.
Often, the family have lots of questions and we are there to answer them.
When we have proceeding donors, it is lovely to hear that donated organs have been transplanted and the recipient is doing well.
I look after families who, in their darkest time of grief, support a loved one’s decision for organ donation, then we hear that a child has had a new heart or lungs, or someone has received the gift of sight through cornea donation. It can make a real difference.
My main message to everyone is to register your decision on the Organ Donation Register and talk to your family and leave them certain of your decision. Your family won’t know how you feel about organ donation unless you tell them, so please talk about it.
Throughout Organ Donation Week 2022, the NHS Blood and Transplant Trust are urging everyone to update their preferences on the Organ Donation Register, and to ensure that their family are aware of their decision.
Although the legislation changes in 2015 mean that individuals are now automatically opted in to donate unless otherwise stated, families can override their loved one’s decision if they are unsure. Discussing a donation choice with loved ones is the only way to leave them certain of these wishes and will avoid any unnecessary additional duress.