Shropshire life-savers honoured for organ donations
Organ donors in Shropshire who have helped to save lives have been posthumously honoured at a moving award ceremony.
They 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 private award ceremony was held at The Council Chamber on Martin Street in Stafford.
Hundreds of families are receiving the award at regional ceremonies held across the UK between April and September.
The awards recognise the 1,619 people who donated their organs after death in 2018, leading to thousands of patients’ lives being saved or transformed.
People recognised at the ceremony included Nicola Anderson from Oswestry.
The award was accepted on her behalf by her husband Ian Anderson.
Ian said: “Nicola was a very caring person, she had registered herself as an organ donor and had kept her details updated. Nicola had shared her wishes with me so when I was approached about organ donation I knew it was what Nicola wanted so I agreed and said of course we must go ahead. Through Nicola’s death she was able to help five people. Nicola donated her kidneys, pancreas, liver, heart and lungs.
“Nicola was in her 40s and fit and healthy. Almost all of her organs went to younger people including her heart which went to a teenager.
“Three of Nicola’s recipients have written to us and it was very humbling to receive the letters. Through her working life Nicola took care of people working in hospices and she was a mother to our three children.”
“Agreeing to organ donation was important as I knew it was what she would have wanted, her caring loving nature will now live on through others.”
Pol Bradley, 59, from Telford was also honoured and the award was accepted by her husband David Bradley.
He said: “Receiving the award on Pol’s behalf was wonderful. I am and always will be so proud of my Pol.
“Myself and Pol were on the organ donor register for many years and believe it to be a wonderful unselfish act to be able to give someone the gift of life.”
Robert Morris Jones accepted an award on behalf of his son Christopher David Jones, from Much Wenlock, who died one week before his 50th birthday. Mr Jones said: “Receiving the award on behalf of my son Christopher was an honour. The ceremony to recognise Christopher and other donors was the most uplifting event.
“I attended with another son Jeremy and it was wonderful to see so many other families who supported their relative’s decision to donate their organs.
“Christopher was able to help three people by donating his liver and kidneys and it is a great source of comfort to me to know that Christopher is living on and has been able to give life to other people.
“I had no hesitation in agreeing to donate his organs, Christopher had only spoken in general about organ donation, but I felt that he would have wanted to give life to others.
“He was taken care of so well, there was no need for me to worry, his organs were taken in a sympathetic and beautiful way. We read a letter at his funeral which explained who Christopher was able to help and would encourage anyone to carry a card and think about joining the organ donor register.”
During 2018, thanks to the generosity of these donors and the support of their families, the number of deceased donors in the UK went up from 1,492 to 1,619.
Tony Shepherd, head of county priory group affairs for the Priory of England and the Islands of the Order of St John, said: “We’re delighted to be able to work with NHS Blood and Transplant to run the Organ Donor Awards for a seventh year and to meet the inspirational families attending the ceremonies. 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 save other people’s lives.”
“People are still dying every day because some families are not talking about donation. We hope the example set by the organ donors whose lives we are honouring in Shropshire encourages many others to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. It only takes two minutes to join the millions of other people who want to save lives.”
Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The pride families feel at these ceremonies is clear to see. 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, and their amazing contribution to society.”
From spring 2020, the law around organ and tissue donation in England is changing.
All adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.
People can join the NHS Organ Donor Register at organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.
The award memento features the organ donation heart logo backed by the Maltese Cross – which is used by the Order of St John – above the words ‘add life, give hope’.