Organ Donation Week 2023: Our families share their transplant stories

Having supported countless families with children needing transplants over the past four decades, we remain determined to ensure that the subject of child organ donation continues to be discussed. In support of NHS's Organ Donation Week 2023, a trio of families have kindly shared their transplant stories.

With four of our ten ‘Homes from Home’ supporting the families of children waiting for transplants, The Sick Children’s Trust is proud to support the NHS’s Organ Donation Week campaign. The 2023 edition, which ran from 18-24 September, saw several of our transplant families, both past and present, sharing their stories with us and the wider world.

Beatrix Archbold. Credit: Terry Archbold.

We had an update from Terry Archbold, whose daughter Beatrix received her donor heart after a 14 month stay at The Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, with our Scott House ‘Home from Home’ supporting Terry and wife Cheryl throughout that time. Terry brought us up to speed on Bea’s journey and explained why their desire to raise awareness about child organ donation remains as strong as ever.  Terry said:

“In terms of child organ donation, I don’t think we’ll ever stop talking about it. It comes from when we lost our daughter Isabel, who was stillborn in 2018, and how it felt to be asked about donating her organs at such an emotional and traumatic time. Bea’s situation has giving us even more reason to shout from the rooftops about it.

“Scott House is a fantastic place that does so much to support the transplant families at The Freeman Hospital, and we are so grateful that it was there for us for over a year, free of charge. It’s hard to appreciate just how valuable a resource Scott House is to transplant families. We’ll never be able to repay The Sick Children’s Trust for what they have done for us.”

To read more about Beatrix’s story, click here.

Olivia and Emma Austin. Credit: Emma Austin.

We also spoke with mum of eight Emma Austin from Shrewsbury, who we supported at Scott House while her 13-year-old daughter Olivia underwent a heart transplant at The Freeman, five hours away from their home in Shropshire.

Emma describes the donor heart as “an incredible gift” that has provided Olivia with the chance of a normal life after a decade of struggle.

Speaking about the support they received at Scott House, mum Emma said: “Without The Sick Children’s Trust things would have been so much more stressful, so we are forever thankful. We cannot stress enough how valuable the charity is to families like ours.”

To read more about Olivia’s transplant story, click here.

Mum Jodie Woolford cradling daughter Amelia. Credit: Jodie Woolford.

Our final story of the week focused on two-year-old Amelia Bolter, who is currently waiting for a donor heart at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London after being transferred from Bristol Children’s Hospital. Amelia’s mum Jodie and dad Rich are currently staying at our Guilford Street House ‘Home from Home’, having been with us since November 2022. Jodie arrived at Guilford Street House heavily pregnant but now has eight-month-old Blossom, who is adored by big sister Amelia, in tow. Mum Jodie said:

“It has been a tough journey so far, with some moments tougher than others. These circumstances are never going to be easy, especially when it comes to transplants and organ donation. It is so hard to think that another child must pass away, with the parents of that child providing organs so others like Amelia, who can only receive a child’s heart, get their chance.

“Amelia is getting on okay, although she is bored. She thinks GOSH is her home, so it is all good. She is on the ward permanently. We are just trying to live life as best we can here at Guilford Street House and GOSH, raising our kids like we would do at home although in a very different environment. We cannot thank The Sick Children’s Trust enough for everything they are doing to support us.”

To read more about Amelia’s transplant journey, click here.

About Organ Donation Week

Organ Donation Week is a week-long campaign that takes place every year, with the aim of raising awareness about the ongoing need for organ donors. The more people who register their decision to become organ donors after they die, the more lives are saved. With The Sick Children’s Trust supporting numerous families with children needing transplants, we are passionate about ensuring that child organ donation continues to be discussed.

Family support for child organ donation 

  • In the UK, families will always be asked to give their consent in order for organ donation from a child to go ahead.
  • However, in 2021/22, only 52% of families gave consent for their child’s organs to be donated.
  • This resulted in a total of just 40 organ donors under the age of 18, compared to the 243 children who are currently waiting for a transplant.
  • In cases where a child was already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register, no family went against this already considered decision to support donation.

If you’d like to learn more about organ donation or wish to register as an organ donor, please click here.

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