The widow of a keen sportsman who donated his organs to help others has encouraged everyone to talk to their families about donation and spoken of the comfort it gave her to know her husband’s decision was being respected.
Pat Parkes has shared her story at the start of this year’s Organ Donation Week, which begins today (20 September) and carries the theme “leave them certain”. It aims to encourage people to talk openly to their loved ones about organ donation so there is no uncertainty about what to do when the time comes.
Pat’s husband Graham, 75, passed away in Colchester Hospital’s critical care unit in January 2020 following a sudden brain haemorrhage. The couple had both carried organ donation cards for years and were fully aware of each other’s wishes – which made a difficult time easier for the whole family.
Whilst in critical care, Graham’s family were asked about his end of life wishes. Specialist nurses from NHS Blood and Transplant and staff from the critical care unit, which is run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), supported Pat to honour Graham’s decision to save and transform the lives of others through organ and tissue donation.
Graham’s gift of his kidney meant that a man in his sixties who had been dependant on dialysis for five years was able to receive a life-saving transplant. Graham also gave the gift of sight by donating his eyes.
“Both Graham and I always knew what we would do in the event of something happening and there was no question of us changing our minds,” said Pat, who lives in Clacton and was with Graham for 35 years and married for 28.
“It really brought me comfort to know that his organs had been used to help others. It was lovely to find out a little about those people and to think that something good had come from something so sad.
“Organ donation is a really wonderful thing and I would encourage others to talk to their loved ones about it so that there is no uncertainty. Everyone at the hospital was so kind and understanding and explained everything to us fully, as well as going on to let us know how Graham’s organs had been used.
“Graham certainly made the most of life and loved playing table tennis, sailing and cycling. He was a lovely man and generous to a fault, which shows in his decision to donate his organs and help others after his death.”
There is information about organ donation, and tips about how to start a conversation on the NHS Organ Donation website.
You can register your decision online after speaking to your family on the NHS Organ Donor Register.Back to top