Belfast Telegraph

David Brookes's organs have helped save five lives... he's an inspiration to others, says proud mum

Kay Brookes, whose son David died in 2013
Kay Brookes, whose son David died in 2013
David died in 2013
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A mother whose son saved the lives of five people through organ donation after his death has told of her pride that his story is being used to inspire others.

David Brookes died in a car crash, but he gave the gift of life to others.

His heart, liver, kidneys and one of his lungs saved the lives of their recipients while his eyes helped restore the sight of two others.

The lives of four children were either saved or enhanced after they were transplanted with sections of his small and large intestines.

Now his story has been selected by the Western Health Trust to encourage other people to consider organ donation.

His mum Kay Brookes, from Eglinton in Co Londonderry, told how she was left devastated when David (31) was killed in a crash in Londonderry in 2013.

But she said the knowledge that David's organs have allowed other people to live has given her great comfort.

She said: "It was very emotional for me to see David's photograph on the wall of the intensive care unit in Altnagelvin but I was proud to see it too because I know how many people are alive today because he was an organ donor."

Ms Brookes explained how, after the organs were donated, she was given some information about the people who received them.

They included a postman in his 20s, who was given one of David's kidneys.

And the other one went to a woman who had been on dialysis for six years who has since gone on to have a child.

She added: "I think that is so lovely because it is like David's DNA is still carrying on.

"Since then I have also had a wonderful letter from the man who got David's lung who had been told he would not live long enough to see his grandchild.

"He wrote to say that thanks to David he has had the privilege of walking his grandson in the park.

"But he didn't only say thank you for himself, he said that thanks to David, his wife and his children had the bright future they wouldn't have had.

"David's son Luke, who was only 11 when his dad died, recently told me how proud he is of him and how he too wants to be a donor as well."

Ms Brookes recalled how Luke asked her about how many lives his dad had saved.

She recalled: "When I told him he got tears in his eyes and so did I.

"He said to me 'now I know what silver lining means because everyone who got a bit of my dad has had a silver lining', which I thought was a lovely way of putting it."

She said she misses her son "every day".

"Sometimes the grief just hits me and I think I can't cope but I have had to learn how to live a new life without David, but it is a comfort knowing that other people are alive because of him.

"On the day the Western Trust unveiled David's story board, I was able to talk to a lady who received a kidney from someone like David and talking to her about the difference it has made to her life helped me so much.

"I know it is a difficult conversation to have but it is important, not only that people consider signing up to become organ donors but that they let their families know this is what they want."

Right now there are around 6,000 people across the UK who are waiting for a transplant - approximately 150 of these are from Northern Ireland.

On average three people in the UK die every day because of a shortage of organ donors.

If someone dies in circumstances where they can donate their organs, their family would be approached about organ donation.

It is hoped the story boards installed by the Western Trust outside the intensive care unit at Altnagelvin Hospital will inspire other families who find themselves in the intensive care unit, potentially facing the loss of a loved one.

Dr Declan Grace, who is organ donation lead at the Western Trust, said: "It can be very difficult for families when their next of kin is critically ill.

"Although most patients recover, some patients do not despite the best efforts of our doctors and nurses. Some of these patients can potentially donate their organs after their death.

"We understand that organ donation is often something families have not previously discussed and we hope that being able to see the stories of others who have been through a similar situation will help families to consider whether it's the right thing for them to do, if the situation arises."

You can help save lives by signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

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