Sunday, 11 July 2010

George's Story

We end National Transplant Week, with the truly inspirational story of 10 year old George Higginson, written in her own words by his Mother, Sarah Higginson.

"I was working my last shift before going to France for our family holiday when one of my colleagues said my husband was on the phone. He was telling me my eldest son George, aged 10, had been knocked off his bike and was being airlifted to the hospital where I work as a nursing sister. I tried to tell myself that perhaps they'd sent the helicopter because I live in a small village, because it was for a child or because someone had exaggerated the facts on the phone when they'd dialled 999. The gravity of the situation dawned on me when I arrived in resus in A&E to hear the doctor calculating the charge to set the defibrillator at and what dose anaesthetic drugs to give.

After a few minutes, he still hadn't arrived so I rang my husband. There'd been complications and they were taking George to Royal Preston Hospital. George had had complications and they'd had to intubate him and stabilise him at the scene before transferring him. I was sat in Preston's A&E resus and they wheeled George in on a spinal board. I just sat there, a few metres away from him, not daring to go near him or listen to what they were saying because it would just confirm what I already knew- that my first born son was no longer really here.

They scanned George's head - the consultant relayed the results to us - I can't really remember what he said, but I think George had 4 separate injuries, any one of which I knew he could die from. Until I told my husband this, he never realised just how serious George's situation was.

George went to theatre so that they could try and monitor the pressure inside his head; they had to remove part of his skull to try and remove the pressure inside his head - we'd have consented to anything just to try and save him. I was 19 weeks pregnant at the time, nauseous and exhausted - I kept falling asleep, then waking and having to relive the nightmare again and again.

When stable enough, George was transferred to Manchester Children's Hospital ICU - we followed behind in a police car, driven by our wonderful family liaison officer. He must have no sooner got into bed after spending several hours at Preston with us, that he got called out again to drive us to Manchester, where he stayed for most of the following day to support us.

Every time someone updated us, the news was worse, until that final, inevitable conversation to tell us that George was brain dead. From hearing his scan results at Preston, my husband and I had talked about donating George's organs. I was worried my husband would refuse - he always said he hated the thought of post mortems, so I thought he may feel the same about organ donation. He'd remembered a conversation George and I had had whilst watching a medical programme on TV where they were performing an organ transplant - George couldn't understand why people wouldn't donate their organs.

Thankfully, my husband didn't refuse, and something wonderful was able to come out of this awful tragedy. We met 2 wonderful transplant co-ordinators - Lee & Lisa- who talked us through the process; I never felt rushed or forced to do anything I didn't want. They promised me they'd take good care of George during his organ retrieval and afterwards. My brother in law went to 'Gap' in Manchester to get George some new clothes to be dressed in afterwards - I didn't want him laying in the hospital mortuary in a shroud or a pair of hospital PJ's - he'd always been such a trendy boy !

The hardest things were telling George's brothers Henry, who was 8 at the time, & Max, then aged 3 that their big brother was going to die. It was the only time I've seen Henry cry about George's accident - I just wished I could have done something to make it easier for him and protect him from this trauma. And saying goodbye to George. He was moved to a side room. My husband, myself and George's brothers went into him. I remember holding and stroking his hand and there being no response at all - just like someone who's had a dense stroke.

Walking out into the Manchester sunshine to be driven home, knowing I'd never see or hear my son again in this lifetime, there aren't words to describe it. Only 10 days prior to his accident we'd all been in London celebrating his 10th birthday - we'd had lunch at Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe restaurant (George's choice!) and he'd spent his birthday money in the Apple shop on Regent Street on an IPod Touch; the photo of him is from the Ferrari shop next door on his birthday.

The morning after, my husband took a call from the transplant co-ordinator. He came upstairs sobbing and all I could think was that they hadn't been able to use any of George's organs - all this pain and suffering for nothing. Quite the contrary - the transplant co-ordinator said George's organs were beautiful and gave us brief details of who had received what. I cried what I can only describe as tears of joy - I was so proud of what my son had helped make possible. I thought of the recipients getting their calls and what must've been going through their and their loved ones' minds.

People say we were brave to make the decision to donate George's organs - we weren't brave at all; we were grateful we were in a position where we could bring some joy out of our situation. There isn't a day goes by when I don't think of my beautiful, clever, kind loving son, but also of the people he's helped - they bring me so much comfort and pride. My letters from the transplant co-ordinators and from one of the recipients and their family are very treasured - I get them out from time to time to read. If anyone else ever finds themselves in a similar situation to us, I'd urge them to donate their loved one's organs - it's decision I'm sure will bring them a great deal of comfort and one that they'll never regret."

Please, think about it, Talk about it, Do something about it.

Sign the Organ Donor Register
- in memory of George and all the other wonderful Donor Families that have given the gift of life.


loulou said...

This is a story about benevolence. A gift that humans have if they choose and George was one of those very special people. I am truly moved by the words here and am sure many others will be too.

jacqui mansell said...

I have known quite a few donor families, and all are wonderful, but I was really touched by this account. Thank you on behalf of all recipients like me, who have benefited from the kindness and generosity of people like you. I hope you continue to draw comfort from knowing how many people George has helped, with your help.