Family whose son died in a car accident backs organ donation campaign

A family whose son died in a car accident say he had told them around the dinner table that his name was on the organ donor list.

Andrew Brooke
Andrew Brooke

Now Andy and Anne Brooke and their daughter, Kirsty, are urging others to have the conversation, supporting the national Leave Them Certain campaign aimed at encouraging families to talk about organ donation with their loved ones.

They say they are full of love and pride in Andrew for the choice he made and the gifts that he left for others.

Andrew, 19, from Oswestry, tragically died in an accident in February 1999.

“Andrew was an organ donor and had told us as we were all sitting together eating our evening meal,” his mother, Anne, said. “He said, ‘by the way, I have put my name on the organ donor list, I just thought you ought to know’,”

“My heart lurched at what Andrew had just said but that moment passed when, in the typical for them, father and son joking relationship, his dad said, ‘but you smoke and drink, who would want your organs?’. His reply was ‘somebody might’ and we all laughed and continued with our meal.”

Mrs Brooke said that small, simple but soon-to-be-huge conversation, which had come out of the blue that evening, was remembered by his father the morning Andrew died.

“We had no decision to make. Andrew had made that decision for himself. Our task was to make sure his wishes were fulfilled,” she said.

“Because of the circumstances of Andrew’s passing and although Andrew’s donor card was in his wallet, the hospital did not contact us.

'Thankful'

“But we knew, as Andrew’s next-of-kin, that our consent would have to be obtained as well. Andrew had left us certain so we had no second thought about making that call, that morning to the hospital.

"We were thankful he had told us of his choice that evening as we sat and ate together. And we have only love and pride in Andrew for making that choice.”

The family says many people who choose to have their name on the organ donor list are not aware that their consent alone is not sufficient and that so much is lost because of the lack of this vital knowledge.

“Several weeks after Andrew’s funeral we contacted the Birmingham offices of the Organ Donors Co-ordinators to ask if it they could tell us if and how Andrew’s donation had been used,” Mrs Brooke added.

“The letter received a few days later used within in the term ‘harvested your loved one’s organs’. When I first read that it took me aback. But I later realised how appropriate that terminology was.

“Harvest is a time of thanksgiving and the families who receive the harvest are thankful everyday.

“Our message is, please, if you have made that amazing choice, for your name to be on the organ donor list, let your family know – Leave Them Certain.

“If they are asked the question, your loved ones will know your answer.”

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