The widow of an engineer who transformed the lives of at least three people by donating his organs after his death has spoken of her pride at his generosity and the legacy he left.
Alan Skippen (pictured below) died at Ipswich Hospital, which is run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, in January 2022 following a bleed on the brain.
The 72-year-old passed away just four months after telling wife Jenny that he wanted to donate his organs – which Jenny says helped her family at a difficult time as they knew they were honouring his wishes.
Alan’s kidneys were used to help two men in their 70s, while his liver saved the life of a 50-year-old who had been given one month to live. His corneas were also transplanted to help people with sight problems.
“Alan was a keen blood donor and was quietly proud of donating 89 units during his lifetime, so it was unsurprising when he agreed to donate his organs,” said Jenny, who is sharing Alan’s story in the run up to Organ Donation Week, which begins on Monday. “That made it was easy for us as a family when we were approached about donation as we knew it was what he wanted.
“I have since received cards from two of the recipients, which was wonderful. It somehow made it more personal to know that part of Alan had given people and their families their lives back.
“We are so proud of Alan. We have lost him and still grieve for him, but what a legacy to leave. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
Jenny and sons Mark, Simon and Paul, together with their wives and Alan’s grandchildren, now wear the golden heart pin – which is given to donor families by NHS Blood and Transplant – to help start conversations around the importance of organ donation.
“We wear our golden heart badges with pride,” added Jenny who lives near Hadleigh and, alongside Alan, also fostered more than 20 children during their 50-year marriage. “If we are asked what it symbolises, we explain how selfless our husband, brother, dad and grandad was.
“This is particularly true of Simon and his wife Vicki, who work on the frontline of the NHS. When they talk to the families of patients who are unfortunately not going to survive, they wear the golden heart and explain how organ donation can turn something utterly terrible into something where some good can be salvaged.
“I would actively encourage everybody to talk to their nearest and dearest while they are fit and well. Have that conversation now so if the unthinkable does happen, everyone is clear about what their loved one wanted.”Back to top