My dead girl saved five lives
Crash teen had talked of being an organ donor
An Ulster mother has told how the intense pain of her teenage daughter's death in a road crash was eased after her organs were donated - saving five lives.
Laura Alexander (13) died in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital in September 2005 from a severe head injury suffered when she was knocked down by a car in Lisburn.
Her heartbroken mother Caroline said the decision to agree to Laura's organs being removed for donation was made easier because the pair had recently had a big chat about the issue, sparked by a television programme.
The Lisburn woman said she had great comfort knowing that her girl's heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, corneas and sclera saved the lives of five people desperately waiting for a donation.
Laura, who was a pupil at Laurelhill Community College, had already decided she wanted to donate her organs after watching a special edition of Casualty screened as part of Transplant Week in 2005.
Ms Alexander told the Belfast Telegraph: "The viewers had to decide which person got a heart for transplant and Laura began asking lots of questions. I explained how transplants helped people and she said that if the time ever came she wanted to donate and help others too.
"It was a very adult conversation for a 13-year-old to be having. When she died I actually approached the nurses myself and enquired about the possibility of her organs being donated.
"We would have said yes to donation even if Laura hadn't told us of her wishes, but knowing that was what she wanted meant we didn't have to make such a difficult decision. It was out of my hands.
"She would have been chuffed to bits to know that her decision had brought so much good, that was the kind of kid she was. There would have been six families dealing with tragedy instead of one had she not made that decision."
Ms Alexander, who also has an 11-year-old son called Michael, said she has since received letters from some of the recipients who got a second chance because of Laura's gift.
"It's so lovely knowing they are doing well because of her. I feel that Laura's death has not been for nothing."
The mother is now encouraging others to join the Organ Donor Register - and parents to discuss their child's wishes with them.
"It's very important to join the register or at least to discuss with others what you would want to happen in the event of tragedy," she added.
Ms Alexander is supporting the UK Transplant My Life, My Gift Mailer initiative which is running throughout November. UK Transplant is the NHS organisation responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
As part of it, every home in the province is to receive a special leaflet inviting them to join the NHS Organ Donor Register sometime in November.
To find out more about organ donation and transplantation - or join the register - log on to www.mylifemygift.org or call the Organ Donor Line on 0845 60 60 400.