Bereaved families are awarded honours for having the courage to save lives of strangers
Our 'Lancashire: Giving the gift of life' appeal launched last January has achieved success as latest figures reveal almost 29,000 people in the county have joined the organ donor register in the last year.
Today, AASMA DAY and MICHELLE BLADE talk to the families of two people posthumously honoured for saving lives through organ donation.
Donors’ loved ones attend ceremonies to receive Order of St John
HUNDREDS of families attended regional ceremonies across the UK to see their loved ones posthumously honoured for saving lives through organ donation.
The deceased people received the Order of St John Award for Organ Donation run in conjunction with NHS Blood and Transplant which was given to their families and loved ones on their behalf.
The awards recognise the 1,364 people who donated their organs after death last year leading to thousands of lives being saved or transformed.
During 2015/16, thanks to the generosity of these donors and the support of their families, the number of deceased donors went up from 1,282 to 1,364 - a rise of six per cent. However, there are still around 6,500 people on the UK transplant waiting list and around three people die every day in need of an organ.
NHS Blood and Transplant is calling for people to be inspired by the actions of these donors.
Barrie Davies, chairman of the local County Priory group of the Order of St John, says: “We’re delighted to be able to work with NHS Blood and Transplant to run the Organ Donor Awards for a fourth year and to meet the inspirational families attending the ceremony.
“Organ donation can clearly save lives and it is a genuine privilege to be able to say thank you to these families whose loved ones have already donated their organs to assist others,” he added.
“In 2016, around three people died every day due to the shortage of organ donors.
“We hope the example set by the organ donors whose lives we honoured encourages many others to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.”
Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, says: “The sense of pride families feel at these ceremonies is truly inspirational.
“Everyone I have spoken to is glad that their relative was able to be an organ donor.
“Families take great comfort from knowing that their loved one went on to save and improve the lives of desperately ill people.
“Transplant patients tell us that organ donors and their families are heroes.
“This award is a chance for us all to recognise their bravery and generosity.
“We hope these awards will inspire other people to tell their families they want to be an organ donor and then register their decision at www.organdonation.nhs.uk.”
• To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call: 0300 123 2323.
Wife: ‘He has given hope and life to someone else. It kind of softens the blow’
THE grieving widow of a grandad-of-20 has proudly accepted an award on his behalf after he donated his organs to save lives.
Beryl Swales, 73, collected her late husband Tony’s special award from St John Ambulance.
Tony, 68, donated his liver, eyes and skin tissue after he died from a brain haemorrhage.
Beryl, of Pinfold Lane, Lancaster, says: “There are so many people needing organs and it’s turning a death into something positive.
“It’s just knowing that all these people around the country have benefited from his death.
“He has given hope and life to someone else. It kind of softens the blow.”
Beryls said she and Tony had discussed organ donation and he told her it was something he felt strongly about wanting to do.
Beryl explains: “He said ‘Your body is no good to you when you die - if you can help someone, why not?’
“So when he was in the hospital with no hope of recovering, his family knew that is what he wanted.”
Tragically, only months after Tony’s death tragedy struck again for Beryl.
She says: “Tony died on December 30 and on May 20 my daughter Brenda died.
“She had an underactive thyroid and she had the signs but she wouldn’t go to the doctors.
“She had a heart attack and passed away. She was 50, which is no age whatsoever.
“It has been a weird year for me, its hard to comprehend that they are not still here.
“For a long time I still expected Tony to walk through the door.”
An animal lover, Tony had two horses, Rosie and Maggie, and it was while he was out in a van with his friends to get hay for his animals, that he collapsed.
“It was a big shock,” Beryl says. “I got a call saying Tony was in hospital after collapsing.
“I ran to the hospital but he was unconscious. I never really spoke to him again.”
Last autumn Beryl recieved a letter from St John’s Ambulance about Tony’s Order of St John award.
“The ceremony was in November,” she remembered. “I went with Tony’s sister, it was lovely.
“There were a lot of people there who had loved ones that had given their organs.
“When people donate their organs they know they are helping somebody live - they are giving someone a big present but willingly. It is a nice thing to do.”
Beryl and Tony met in The Millstone pub in the 1980s and were married for 29 years.
The couple have 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“It’s lonely now,” Beryl said. “Tony did a lot for me. But although you know you have lost your loved one, its a wonderful feeling to know that they are going to help people with donations.
“It lifts your spirits. Someone is surviving and Tony lives on in other people, or at least a part of him does,” added Beryl.
Mum and dad: ‘We are still devastated by his death but we think organ donation is a wonderful thing’
A COUPLE who lost their son in a road smash have revealed how they made the decision to donate his organs after death as they knew he had signed up to be an organ donor.
Nigel Hardman, 48, who grew up in Penwortham but was living in the New Hall Lane area, was killed in a horrific road collision in which a 51-year-old woman driving the other car also died.
His parents, Edwin and Dorothy Hardman, of Padway, Penwortham say that although they were devastated at losing their son, they wanted to donate his organs to save others and meet his wishes.
Mum Dorothy, 85, says: “We still don’t really know exactly what happened but Nigel was on the Penwortham flyover on his way to see us when the crash happened on December 9, 2015.
“He was on a bend and for some reason, he went straight on and crashed into a lady’s car and sadly she died as well.
“Nigel had not been well for a few days before his death and said he had an upset stomach.
“I had called him on the telephone that morning at about 8:30am and he told me he just needed to feed his cat and then he would come to our home.
“The accident happened just after 10am and we did not find out what had happened until after lunch.
“A policewoman appeared at our door and told us there had been a terrible accident.”
Dorothy said Nigel had suffered health problems and had been treated for a heart aneurysm a few years previously and had also suffered a mini stroke.
He was taken to hospital with a bleed on the brain and a fractured pelvis and was put into an induced coma. He died a couple of days later.
Dorothy says: “Organ donation was discussed with us at the hospital.
“Nigel had signed up to be an organ donor and we knew he had a donor card.”
Dorothy and Edwin have since been told Nigel’s kidneys and liver were donated to save the lives of three people.
Dorothy says: “It was upsetting we also felt proud that this is Nigel’s legacy after death and are glad other people are alive due to his organs.
“We would rather have Nigel and are still devastated by his death but we think organ donation is a wonderful thing.”