Last year, 457 people died waiting for a transplant, including 14 children. There are 6,414 people on the transplant waiting list including 176 children.
When my father died, I gained immense comfort from knowing that 2 people had benefited from his death. Sadly because of the circumstances of his death, it was only possible to donate his eyes. I would be more than happy for as many people as possible to benefit from my body if I no longer need it. There is a new campaign suggesting that anyone who would be prepared to accept a donated organ, should be prepared to give one. It makes sense.
Jemima Layzell was a 13-year-old girl who died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm but donated her organs to eight people, this is the largest number of lives saved by one person in the history of the organ donation service.
The eight recipients included five children and included people throughout England.
Jemima Layzell was “lovely – clever, funny, compassionate and creative”, said her mother, Sophy Layzell, 43, a drama teacher from Horton in Somerset. Just a couple of weeks before her sudden collapse in March 2012, the family had a conversation about organ donation because a family friend had died in a car crash. “They were on the register but their organs couldn’t be donated because of the circumstances of their death,” said Sophy. “Jemima had never heard of organ donation before and found it a little bit unsettling, but totally understood the importance of it.” Jemima collapsed during the preparations for her mother’s 38th birthday party and died in hospital four days later.
“Shortly after Jemima died, we watched a programme about children awaiting heart transplants and being fitted with Berlin Hearts in Great Ormond Street hospital,” said her mother. “It affirmed for us that saying ‘no’ would have been denying eight other people the chance for life, especially over Jemima’s heart, which Harvey had felt uncomfortable about donating at the time.
“We feel it’s very important for families to talk about organ donation. Every parent’s instinct is to say no, as we are programmed to protect our child. It’s only with prior knowledge of Jemima’s agreement that we were able to say yes.”
Anthony Clarkson, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Every donor is special and Jemima’s unique story shows the extraordinary difference a few words can make. Hundreds of people are still dying unnecessarily waiting for a transplant because too many families say no to organ donation.
“Please tell your family you want to donate, and if you are unsure, ask yourself; if you needed a transplant would you accept one? If so, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”
NHS Blood and Transplant is hoping Jemima’s story will encourage more families to have the crucial conversation, because a shortage of donated organs is costing hundreds of lives every year, it says.
To join the NHS organ donor register visit organdonation.nhs.uk or contact the 24-hour donor line on 0300 123 23 23.