A consultant with NHS Forth Valley whose family have both donated and received organs for transplant, is appealing to local people across Forth Valley to join the organ donor register.
Dr Helen Tyler, who works at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, said the death of her cousin helped save the life of another 19 year-old. Meanwhile her father in-law benefitted from two kidney transplants.
She said: “I think the most important thing is that people talk about organ donation and discuss their wishes and beliefs with family members. It’s a great opportunity to do something positive at what’s a terrible time for those left behind.”
Helen’s cousin Caroline was in her first year at medical school when Helen was in her final year at the same university. Sadly Caroline was hit by a lorry. She never regained consciousness and suffered brain stem death. Her heart was donated to a student the same age, and both her kidneys and liver were also donated for transplant.
Dr Tyler explained: “It was in line with her wishes and gave her family the knowledge they had done one last thing for her.
‘‘She had been training to be a doctor and always wanted to help someone and through donating her organs they believed she had achieved that. It gave them some sort of hope that they could take from a devastating event.”
The kidney transplants received by Dr Tyler’s father- in-law helped extend his life. The first gave him 10 years free from dialysis and allowed him to return to work.
When he received his second transplant he was very ill and his recovery process was different but every month was precious extra time.
“I think we are very bad at discussing death,” said Helen. ‘‘People generally are very superstitious – they think if they talk about death it will happen.”
NHS Forth Valley organ donation lead, Dr Mark Worsley, says Helen’s experiences show how vital it is for people to chat about organ donation.
“Although ‘Forth Valley residents on the organ donation register have risen to 37.5 per cent of the population, this is still lower than the national average of 40 per cent.
“Age is no barrier to becoming an organ or tissue donor, nor are most medical conditions. People in their 70s and 80s have become donors and saved many lives whilst the oldest recorded cornea donor was 104.”
To join the NHS organ donor register, visit www.organdonationscotland.org