My daughter Rachel was a fun loving girl who loved life and enjoyed things that most girls of her age do. She loved to sing, dance; she was also a member of a local drama school and a Guide.
Ever since she was a young girl I had told Rachel and my son David about the story of their grandfather who had kidney failure and was on kidney dialysis before receiving a kidney transplant. I told them about how much more active and healthy my dad was when he received his transplant.
Both David and Rachel always said even at an early age; if they were to die they would want their organs to be used to help other people who were sick. I never ever thought that I would ever be faced with such a decision to make. It came as a great shock for us all that she unexpectedly took ill and died on the day she finished primary school. She had been looking forward to going on holiday to Egypt the following week and then going on to secondary school. As always with Rachel she was never daunted by the prospect of going to her new school, she was so positive about everything she did.
Rachel took ill and we called an ambulance as she quickly lapsed into unconsciousness. All the staff from the paramedics, nurses, doctors to the Senior Neurological Consultant fought in vain to try and save her. The damage done to her brain by the haemorrhage was far too serious. We were told by doctors that Rachel would die within the next few hours.
At that stage she was being kept alive only by the use of a life support machine, and we knew we’d be approached about organ donation.
We all instantly thought of Rachel’s wishes. We also knew that this wish might go some of the way to turn this extremely upsetting tragedy into something positive. It didn’t take long to come to the decision that Rachel’s wishes were going to be carried out. We approached the doctors tending to Rachel and they were stunned. It must be so hard to approach the family of a dying child and ask them about organ donation. I think they must have been trying to pluck up the courage to ask when we approached them.
We all said our tearful goodbyes and Rachel died peacefully later on that night. The transplant coordinator Audrey was so caring and compassionate. She ensured that Rachel was treated with dignity throughout her death and all the medical staff treated her with the utmost respect and care. They were amazed that a child so young could have made such a mature and selfless decision.
Rachel had a rare blood groupm which limited the amount of recipients that could be found, however, recipients were found for her liver, both kidneys and her pancreas. We were told all the patients were doing really well and made a good recovery.
I am so proud of Rachel and her attitude to love life and even in her death to give a new lease of life to others. I have since received a letter from one of the recipients of Rachel’s kidneys and pancreas. It was one of the nicest letters I have ever received. It must have been so hard to write however the gratitude pours from the letter. It’s good to know that the man who got these organs is doing really well and is determined to lead a full and productive life. It’s what Rachel would have wanted.