The gift of life 

09/07/2013 00:00 

A bereaved husband who made the courageous decision to donate his wife's organs for transplant will be sharing his experiences with patients, staff and visitors at University College Hospital this week.

A blissfully happy marriage: Patrick with his late wife Kate

Patrick Collins will be urging people to join the donor register at an event this Thursday (11 July) to raise awareness, as part of the NHS National Transplant Week.

It is being held in the hospital atrium from 8.30am to 12.30pm and is an opportunity for people to talk over the issues.

As you read this, around 7,500 people of all ages across the UK are waiting for an organ transplant. As many as 1,000 of them a year – an average of three a day – will die because there are simply not enough organs. Click here to sign up for the donor register.

When Mr Collins' wife Kate died unexpectedly at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery after suffering a brain haemorrhage, he and his three grown-up sons took some comfort in the knowledge that her organs would give life to others. Specialist nurses at UCLH supported the family throughout the process.

Mr Collins, who is now a member of the UCLH organ donation committee, heard last year that his wife's heart valve had been transplanted into a four year old girl.

At the time he said: "It doesn't take away the shock and pain but it helped – and still helps – to hear that something good has come out of our loss.

"Kate was a great mother and my best friend. We met on our first day at infants' school and had a blissfully happy marriage. That's more than most men ever have.

"I am grateful for that and for the fact that organ donation has helped others. It means a lot to them and my boys and helps us to remain positive."

At tomorrow's event, specialist nurses Sarah Jones, Anna Garofall-Hunt and Rebecca Westlake will be available to provide information and answer any questions.

Rebecca Westlake added: "We want to encourage people to think about the issues, talk it over with their friends and family and consider signing up to the donor register.

"Because of these important conversations, in the last year 18 UCLH patients gave the gift of life by becoming organ donors.  However, we know that if other patient's relatives had known their wishes, this number could have been even higher."

According to NHS Blood and Transplant, more than 90 per cent of families will agree to donation if a loved one is registered and has discussed their wishes. This drops to around 40% if donation wishes aren't known.



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