CLAIRE Gardiner was free spirited, intelligent and beautiful. She genuinely cared for people and would help anyone she could.
Shortly after a family holiday to her favourite city of Rome, the 30 year-old from Heighington Village in County Durham started to suffer chronic headaches and one morning lost the sight in one of her eyes and fell into a coma.
Claire’s brother Edd Gardiner said; “If there is one thing I have learned about life so far is ‘it goes on’ this is true in more ways than one. I will remember my sister for the person she was and the things she did. I will never forget that in her death she gave others life. For this alone she is my hero and I hope one day I will follow my sister’s example and give the same, to save another.
“The care we received as a family from the organ donation specialist nurses was brilliant. We were told about Claire’s operations and how many people she could help. We knew it was the right thing to do and something Claire would have wanted.
“Right up to the last minute we could change our minds and we never felt pressurised to do anything we were uncomfortable with or to agree to anything we didn’t want.
“Claire was operated on the following day and her heart, liver, and kidneys are now helping others live their lives.”
Currently there are 77 patients in the Teesside (TS postcode) area and a further 40 in the Darlington area (DL postcode) on the organ transplant waiting list. The vast majority require kidneys, but pancreas, heart, lung and liver are also vitally needed.
With 294,000 people across the two areas on the organ donor register, specialist nurse Sharon Mitchinson is appealing for more to join and says that this week – National Transplant Week – is an ideal time to think about the benefits you can give someone else, after you have died.
Sharon said: “Claire’s family knew that Claire wanted to be an organ donor should the unthinkable ever happen and that made their decision that bit easier to make. If you’ve already talked about it, your family won’t have the burden of having to guess what you would have wanted at an incredibly difficult time and are more likely to support your decision to donate.
“With three people a day still dying whilst waiting for an organ transplant, it is more important than ever to make your wishes known. Join the organ donor register and tell your loved one’s what you want to do.
“You can also join in this year’s campaign on facebook or twitter #spellitout ”