The gift of life 

02/09/2015 00:00 
“I’m the extremely lucky person who was given the chance to continue with life when I received a phone call offering a donor heart. I still can’t believe when I look in the mirror how lucky I am to still be here on this earth.” 
 

Primary school teacher Alison Carey from Harrow helped save the life of this stranger and four others - thanks to a selfless decision to donate her organs when she died.
 
Seven years before her death, Alison signed the organ donor register and – crucially – shared her thoughts with her sister, who was able to make sure her wish was granted when the time came. 
 
Nearly 7,000 people are currently on the organ transplant waiting list and many will die because of a shortage of donors. 
 
Transplant Week (7-13 Sept), organised by NHS Blood and Transplant, aims to raise awareness to increase the number of donors and encourage them to discuss their decision with their loved ones. Around 95 per cent of families will agree to donation if a loved one is registered and has discussed their wishes. This drops to around 45 per cent if donation wishes aren't known.
 
Alison’s sister Dr Julia Whiteman said:  “As a family we are so pleased to know that we were able to carry out her wishes and that Alison was able to help so many people through her organ donation.  I remember the conversation very clearly … she had obviously thought about it deeply and had said she wanted to tell me something.  She had just undergone significant surgery and I was quite surprised that she had the courage to turn her mind to helping others at a time like that.”
 
Dr Whiteman – who is Dean of Postgraduate Medicine at Health Education North West London – will be joining our specialist nurses to talk to staff, patients and visitors about organ donation at two awareness raising events at UCLH.

The advice and awareness sessions will be at University College Hospital on Tuesday 8th (AM) and at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurology on Thursday 10th (AM). All are welcome.
 
It offers her family some comfort to know that their beloved daughter, sister and aunt has given others the gift of life.  The family receive regular update letters expressing deep gratitude from those who received her heart, kidneys, pancreas and liver.
 
Alison had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour ten years before her death in October 2013 at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Clearly recalling their earlier conversation, her sister told hospital staff that it had been her wish to donate her organs when it became clear that they could do no more for Alison. 
 
The family were supported by our specialist nurses and The London Organ Donation Services Team who they described as being ‘so kind and supportive through the process.’

Family gathering: Dr Julia Whiteman front far right, with her sister Alison standing behind.

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