Sunderland woman who gave the gift by donating husband's organs backs city's World Transplant Games events

A Sunderland widow who helped give the gift of life by donating her husband’s organs after his shock death will present medals as her home city hosts the World Transplant Games.

Monday, 17th June 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Monday, 17th June 2019, 11:27 am
Karen Robson, pictured with a photo of her late husband Leslie Westcott, will be presenting medals at the World Transplant Games.

The honour at this summer's swimming and ten pin bowling events in Sunderland will be a bittersweet moment for Karen Robson.

Karen, who lives in Farringdon, lost her husband Leslie Westcott just before Christmas 13 years ago.

Both supported organ donation, so Karen had no hesitation when it came to agreeing to her husband's kidneys being used to save another life.

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Leslie Westcott died aged 64 after having a heart attack while behind the wheel.

She will present medals at Sunderland Aquatic Centre and AMF Bowl Washington during the World Transplant Games, which run from August 17 to 24, with the city to also host cycling events.

Karen said: "Leslie was a lovely man, he would have done anything for anyone.

“He was only 64 when he died.

“He had a heart attack at the wheel of his car while he was driving just a few weeks before Christmas.

Sunderland Aquatic Centre will host the swimming events during this summer's World Transplant Games.

“We were on our way to the doctors but he never made it.

"One minute I was getting ready for Christmas, Leslie had got the Christmas tree down from the loft just a few hours before, the next minute someone was asking me if I’d like to donate my husband’s organs.

"My husband was always very fit, he never had anything wrong with him so it was the biggest shock of my life but I’ve never regretted donating his organs because there’s no point in taking them with you.

“His kidneys went to a man living in the North East who sent me a lovely letter afterwards."

She has no regrets about her decision.

She said: "I would just say 'think how you would feel if it was you or someone you love waiting for an organ'.

“I always say it’s not for everyone but it is one of the best things I ever did."

Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council's cabinet member for communities and culture, said: “It's really inspiring to hear about people like Karen who have taken the difficult decision to help someone else live by donating their loved one's organs.”

For more about the NHS Organ donor register visit