THE family of a much-missed brother and husband are calling on more Wearsiders to donate their organs and save lives in the process.
This week is National Transplant Week and City Hospitals Sunderland has thrown its support behind a drive to get more donors.
John Carter was just 33 when he was diagnosed with and later died from a brain tumour almost six years ago.
The Aylesford Mews man’s devastated family were then asked if his organs could be donated to help others.
“John dying all happened so quickly and at first my mam and his wife were against the idea of donating them,” said sister Julie Carter, 43, who works as a ear, nose and throat nurse practitioner at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
“We didn’t feel pressured or anything, but at the time we thought we’d been through enough grief.
“But then we thought that if the boot was on the other foot and another family were in the same position, we’d want them to donate and save John’s life, so it was decided we’d do it.”
John’s family, including his widow Andrea and his mum Freda and dad John, agreed that his kidneys, liver and heart should be pass on to needy recipients.
Then, in an incredible coincidence, at a memorial service just a year later, the family met the teenager who had received John’s heart.
“The boy wanted to say thanks to us and it was very emotional for all involved,” added Julie.
“One of my mam’s dying wishes was to touch John’s heart and she put her hands on the lad’s chest to feel it.”
Julie now says that more people should follow her family’s lead and choose to donate the organs of a loved one.
“Talking about organ donation is a very difficult thing when someone so close to you had died,” added Julie.
“But we’ve had correspondence from all of his recipients and I think it just helps with your grief and sorrow.
“You never get over losing that person, but hopefully it helps other families going through the same thing.”
Although there are thousands of life-saving transplant procedures carried out each year in the UK, there are still 7,300 on the waiting list.
A total of 17 families were approached by City Hospitals Sunderland about organ donation from April 2013 to March this year, with 14 consenting to donation.
As a result, 13 patients received a transplant, with 11 getting a new kidney and two people being given a new liver.
Michelle Pearson, specialist nurse, organ donation at the Royal, said: “These transplants will not only improve the quantity of life of the recipients but also will enhance their quality of life and the quality of their relatives’ lives.
“We want more people to consent to organ donation so that the UK can be proud of a donation record that matches the best in the world.”
To register as a donor, go to www.transplantweek.co.uk, call 0300 123 2323 or text DONATE to 62323.