Mum was a vibrant and young 67, so when I received a call that she’d had a stroke, it was a genuine shock. After racing to the hospital and seeing that Mum was “okay”, I said to her at least it was only this and not the other – meaning death. But things were not meant to be, and Mum suffered a devastating brain hemorrhage less than 48 hours later.
I feel so genuinely lucky to have had an hour or so with her that morning, once we knew she wasn’t going to make it, and to say my goodbyes and lie next to her while she took her last breaths.
Once all the family had arrived and we had had the news broken to us, we were asked if we might like to think about organ or tissue donation for Mum. Immediately I said yes. I looked around the room at the rest of the family who were all nodding in agreement. You see it was never really a decision for us, rather, a given.
Mum and Dad were regular blood donors throughout my life and Mum would often trot down to the blood donation clinic in her lunch break to give blood, not giving a second thought to it. Mum was pretty frugal when it came to money, but that didn’t apply here.
Annette from Organ Donation NZ arrived pretty soon after Mum had passed and was so respectful of Mum and so kind. I will never forget her kindness. Annette has continued to be a part of our lives over the last year, providing us wonderful updates on when Mum’s tissue had been used and a little information on the recipients. Those updates have kept my heart full and lessened my grief so significantly. To know that Mum is living on through others via her donations is so heartwarming and something Mum would be so proud of. Her death was not all in vain and her eye tissue, though now in others, is still seeing the world for all its beauty and wonder.
When I told some of my friends that Mum had donated her eyes, some of them looked at me a little strange. I could tell what they were thinking – “what did she look like in the casket?” They thought it might be a bit gruesome. However the team at Organ Donation NZ are so extremely professional and explained that mum would be given the upmost care. There was no way you could tell that Mum had made those donations and she looked very peaceful.
Though Mum’s death has left an enormous hole in our lives, to know that she has saved the eyesight of four individuals after her donation is extraordinary. Mum’s life was full of colour and to know that these people are now seeing the world in a new light after Mums donation is nothing short of amazing.
Jo Cogan – Faye’s daughter
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