My only child, Lynn, was on a student exchange in the south of France. She was almost 17 years old and had just completed 5th year. This was her first year to go on a student exchange and she was keen to improve her French.
Two weeks into her four week stay, Lynn was involved in an accident...
Having been admitted to hospital, tests and x-rays were carried out. Despite seeming well, the doctors decided to keep her overnight for observation. Three and a half hours after the accident she slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness.
When the question of organ donation was put to us, we had no hesitation. I knew it was what Lynn would have wanted. Aged 15, she had actually completed an organ donor card. The Christmas before her death she spoke to her aunt about organ donation.
Having made the decision to donate Lynn’s organs, one of my friends said to me that it was very unselfish of us. I didn’t see it that way, to me it was a way of Lynn giving others a chance of life. Knowing four people were living with her organs helped me cope in the early stages of my inconsolable loss. In fact, looking back I think it was actually a lifeline for me.
Through an interpreter, the Doctor spoke to us about the procedure involved and what organs they were using. He also said that at any stage during the operation if we changed our minds, they would respect our wishes. We were treated with such care and kindness. I’m sure it is very difficult for the medical people, as they tenderly deal with grief-stricken relatives, when we are so raw and our emotions laid bare.
Seven months after Lynn’s death, we went back to France. We first spoke to the Doctor who tried to save Lynn and then met with a doctor who was one of the team involved in the transplant operation. Without been given names, we were told the ages and gender of the recipients. One recipient, a young man aged 22, was actually in the hospital where Lynn died and the Doctor had a very good relationship with him. A few days after his operation, he told the doctor that he was thinking of the bereaved family.
As we were leaving, I thanked the Doctor for his time. I will always remember his reply – “It is I who should be thanking you”. I never for one moment had any doubts about donating Lynn’s organs but that re-enforced the gratitude that must be felt by both recipients and the medical teams involved.
Losing your child is unbearable, something no parent should ever experience but too many do. Organ donation is a lifeline for many, for the lucky recipients and the bereaved families who get comfort from knowing their loved ones have given the greatest possible gift to another human being – the Gift of Life.
During her short life, I was very proud of my beautiful daughter, in death I am still proud of her. I hope that the recipients of her organs are living with health and happiness.