Organ Donation Week: Mum takes comfort in her son’s decision to donate his organs

Jamie's mum, Donna Howden (pictured centre), with family members and staff from Pinderfields ICU.
Jamie's mum, Donna Howden (pictured centre), with family members and staff from Pinderfields ICU.

This week is National Organ Donation week, and people across the country are being encouraged to sign up to the organ donation register and share their wishes with family members.

For Donna Howden, who lost her son earlier this year, organ donation is a ‘no-brainer.’

Jamie Leonardi passed away in February.

Jamie Leonardi passed away in February.

17-year-old Jamie Leonardi passed away in February after a short stay in the Intensive Care Unit at Pinderfields Hospital.

Jamie was able to donate seven organs, granting six people a new chance at life.

Donna explained that she took peace and comfort in her son’s decision to donate his organs to others.

Thanks to Jamie’s generous decision, a man in his fifties received a kidney and pancreas after two years on the waiting list, a man in his thirties received the other kidney after three years on the waiting list, a lady in her twenties and a little boy both received part of his liver, a man in his sixties received a new heart and another man in his sixties received a double lung transplant.

The comfort packs include essential items and cost less than �5 to make.

The comfort packs include essential items and cost less than �5 to make.

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Jamie had previously told her that he would like to donate his organs in the event of his death.

She said: “It was mainly because of what happened to his grandad. His grandfather had cancer and wanted to donate, but wasn’t able to. He and Jamie had the conversation.

“We wanted to donate anything we could, even for research.”

“I’ve always been of the understanding that they can do it to me. To me it’s a bit of a no-brainer, it really should be an opt out.”

After Jamie passed away, Donna began fundraising in his memory. Some of the money raised will support Pinderfields ICU and Martin’s House Children’s Hospice, and the rest will be used to create comfort packs for visitors to the ICU.

Each one includes essentials such as toothbrushes, shampoo, soap and deodorant and costs less than £5 to produce.

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Donna explained that while Jamie was in hospital he was never alone. His family spent their days gathered around his bed and Donna stayed with her son each night.

She said: “I just wanted to brush my teeth. It took 48 hours before I could brush my teeth and when I did I felt a million times better.

“It meant I could stay with Jamie, without having to leave his side.”

Aware that her situation was not unique, Donna decided to produce the comfort packs for others who may need to stay at the hospital for several days.

She hopes that she will be able to create the packs for several years, providing a relief for those in difficult circumstances.

To donate to the fund in Jamie’s name, click here.

Organ Donation Week encourages people to discuss their thoughts on organ donation with their family, and, if they so wish, to sign up to the organ donor register.

The week runs from Monday, September 3 to Sunday, September 9, 2018.

For more information about organ donation, visit the NHS Organ Donation website.