Staff nurse Laura Wyles never forgets the moment when she was working on cardiology at CRH and got a call from her mum saying her father had had a heart attack and was in hospital.
Tom Wyles, then 63, had been volunteering at a centre for lonely, elderly people moving furniture around when he collapsed in February 2016.
Following complications and five days in ICU, doctors told the family nothing more could be done.
At that point the family agreed to turn off the life-support machine and took the decision that turned the tragedy from something so sad to “something amazing”.
They followed his wishes and although his organs could not be used for transplant, his tissues could.
Laura, who now works in A&E at CRH, said: “We have since found out two women have had their sight improved or restored after being given corneas and a seven-year-old girl has received a heart valve.
“When I found out about the little girl it was so lovely, I just cried for so long. She may live a full life because of my Dad and that feels amazing -it has given us some sense of closure.
“If telling our story helps others then that is lovely too.”
Laura says working in cardiology made it extra difficult and thanks all her colleagues and managers for supporting her through the aftermath three and a half years ago.
“I was caring for people who had survived what had happened to my Dad, sometimes three or four times, and that was particularly hard for me. My colleagues, my boss, everyone on the ward were fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for better support.”
Laura started at the Trust as a HCA 10 years ago, became a trainee and is now a staff nurse in ED. As a result of what her family went through, she is now a CHFT Organ Donation link nurse in ED and is in a position to support other families through the decision-making at such a difficult time.
She says: “My Dad was of the thinking that when he’s gone they’re “no use to him” and was on the register so we knew he wanted to become a donor and do what he could. He was that type of person who was always helping others.
“From my experience, I feel and hope I can support families sensitively. We turned something so sad to something amazing and really beautiful.
“Thinking people have survived because of Dad has helped me make sense of it all and come to terms with his death. I know I’ll never get Dad back, and it’s still hard to think about, but if others can have someone they love around for a bit longer because of him, then that makes me very proud.”
Laura has shared her story as part of Organ Donation Week to urge people to sign the donor register and help others to survive or live better lives. It would have been her father’s 67th birthday on the15th of this month so makes telling her story now extra poignant.
To join, click the link here - https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-your-decision/register-your-details/?