NNUH supports National Organ Donation Week with the launch of poignant film
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals is proud to support Organ Donation Week 2023 and mark the start of the week by launching a poignant film in which a donor’s family meet the man who received their son’s heart.
Norfolk businessman Kitt Blake was 30 years old and able to help four people when he died in 2020. Tim Head, 64, from Northamptonshire received Kitt’s heart and Kitt’s family were able to hear it beating in Tim’s chest. Tim was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy and was ill for five years including an eight-month hospital stay before the transplant in the spring of 2020.
The poignant event was captured on film as the two families wanted to share their experiences in their support of Organ Donation.
Even though organ donation is now an opt out system, it is still vital to have those conversations with family members, so they can support your decision should the unthinkable happen.
NNUH Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation Natalie Ashley, said: “Huge thanks to Tim for allowing this incredibly emotional moment which meant such a lot to Kitt’s family. I really believe the meeting has been of huge benefit to both families who have now definitely formed a bond for life. Such meetings don’t happen often, but when they do it is hugely powerful.
“Even though the law has changed to an opt out system it is still just as important as ever to talk about your wishes with your family. We are so indebted to families, like Kitt’s who selflessly supported him to donate at such a terribly difficult time.
“Thanks also to the staff at Ketteringham Hall, for all their help in setting up this meeting, and to Keiron Tovell, for his wonderful sensitive videography.
Tim said: “It’s been a fantastic day that I’ll never forget. My first anniversary was their first anniversary and I just felt like I had to write to them to thank them. Even from day one, I had this feeling we’d meet up one day. I just knew it.
“There were a lot of emotions leading up to today. We just want them to know that we do really appreciate it every single day.
“Jane listening to my heart was very emotional and I’m glad she listened. Everyone is at ease now.”
Jane said: “It meant a lot to meet Tim today. He sent us a letter about a year after the organ donation and we were really happy to know that he was so well. He said it would be lovely to meet up when the time was right and I knew I wanted to.
“To see that he’s happy, well and enjoying his life together with his family was marvellous and something that they may not otherwise have had. They’re a lovely family and deep down I think I knew they would be.”
She added, “When Kitt was in hospital and we were asked about organ donation, my heart sunk. I didn’t know what to say at first. However Kitt was someone who always helped others, so we knew it was the right thing. We had to think quickly, but I’m glad we made the right decision.”
The transplant took place at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, the biggest adult cardiothoracic transplant centre in the country which performs approximately 90 heart, lung and heart-lung transplants each year for patients from across the United Kingdom.
Monika Krupa is Recipient Transplant Coordinator at Royal Papworth Hospital. She said:
“It was an honour to be present for this first meeting between the two families. It was an emotional experience for everyone involved and marks the next stage for Tim in his transplant story.
“In our role we’re very privileged to be part of the lives of our recipients and we become like a second family to them, supporting them closely at every step of their incredible journeys.
Organ donation changes lives, and more than ever we need people to confirm their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. One donor can save up to nine lives, and even more by also donating tissue. More than 7,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant in the UK, while on average around 1,400 people donate each year.
Prof Nancy Fontaine, our Chief Nurse and chair of the Organ Donation Committee said: “Each year our team of Organ Donation Specialist Nurses do more and more to help raise awareness about the importance of donation. The valuable work they do helps to ensure Organ Donation is always considered as part of end-of-life care when it would be appropriate, and that excellent support is provided to families at this time.
“Last year 30 families made the selfless decision to support their loved ones to become an organ donor after their death with 20 of these patients going on to become organ donors resulting in 51 patients receiving a life-saving transplant. These donations were facilitated by the Specialist Nurses for Organ Donation, who whilst co-ordinating the whole process also provide valuable support to the patient’s loved ones.
Deborah Easby, Clinical Lead for Organ Donation added: “We cannot achieve these amazing outcomes without the tremendous support of our Critical Care, ED, Emergency Theatre and NICU Teams – so many people are involved throughout the whole donation process to ensure that organ donation is considered as part of end-of-life care planning in those patients eligible to donate following their death. Thank you to all those at NNUH for your continued support and dedication to saving lives through Organ Donation.”
This year the campaign is aiming to encourage at least 25,000 people to save future lives by taking two minutes to confirm their organ donation decision during September. It’s quick and easy. You can simply scan the QR code to register your organ donation decision, or go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk
Each year, hundreds of opportunities for transplants are missed because families just aren’t sure what to do.
Your family will always be consulted about whether you wanted to be an organ donor or not, and clinicians will never proceed with organ donation if your family or loved one’s object. If you want to be an organ donor after you die, it is important that you talk to your loved ones and make sure they understand and support your organ donation decision. You can also register your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Please take a moment to watch the film
You can find out more about Organ Donation here: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/