Do They Know About.... Donation?

Drawers. My mother used to say a girl can never have too many drawers. At the last count I have the grand total of 46 in my house. They come in all shapes and sizes: old and new, small, medium and large and tiny ones in a chest that are hardly fit for purpose.

Every so often I set myself the task of clearing them out at the rate of one a day, which can take anything from two minutes to two hours. It serves as a useful method of judging whether items have outlived their usefulness. Having completed the drawers, I then attack the wardrobe; full of clothes that have barely seen the light of day and set myself the ultimatum of either wearing garments in the following 12 months or sending them to the charity shop.

But then there are items which charity shops won’t touch such as electrical gadgets and bedding; the Refuse Centre beckons. Nip to the local tip and you can see all manner of flat screen TVs, video recorders, CD players and more and one cannot help but wonder whether the paraphernalia has broken or whether they just been relegated to the tip merely because the owner craved the latest model.

Maybe it’s my upbringing or these austere times, but I find that there is nothing worse than waste. What to do with these things which could be of immense value to someone, somewhere? So I Freegle, a service whereby you advertise your item freely online, and someone who needs said item claims it. No money changes hands but the benefits are manifold: the donor gets liberated of unwanted item, has the delight of knowing it’s going not to landfill plus an altruistic feel good factor. The recipient has a desire or need for it, thus their life is enriched. It’s a win-win situation.


Some years ago I saw a compelling TV item on an issue which, at the time, was completely off my radar. A young lad of just 10 had died in a car crash four years earlier. He was a beautiful blond haired child who would have grown up to be a very handsome man. It was difficult not to be moved seeing the loss of the potential… until I heard the rest of the story. His dying wish was that his organs were used to assist others. The result was that nine people had benefitted from his generosity.

In order to celebrate his birthday annually, his parents throw a party in remembrance of their dead son, and invite the nine people who have received his organs to attend. Each of the recipients’ lives has been either transformed, enriched, or eased and their gratitude was immense. For the parents, the closest they got to being in their dead child’s presence, however remotely, was group hugging the recipients.

One cannot help but be touched by the generosity of the young lad, but one shouldn’t overlook the pivotal role which the parents played. They adhered to their son’s wishes at a time when they were racked with grief. Today, that despair is marginally alleviated by their son’s heart still beating, and other organs thriving, living, and assisting those recipients. His parents had, in effect, Freegled; given away something that they had cherished but which would have gone, literally, to ground. The recipients’ lives have been transformed. Another win-win.


Today, thanks to successful campaigns, Organ Donation has started to penetrate the national consciousness. According to the Organ Donation Register 31% of us are listed as donors. There is, of course, always room for improvement: it appears only half of the process is being embraced. The unwillingness, or even the inability, to discuss end of life issues with family members ensures that when the time comes, in spite of being on the ODR, the family is often ignorant of the deceased’s wishes and therefore unwilling to make pivotal decisions.

So why do families, who have the ultimate say, refuse to give not just their permission, but choose to disregard these life-enhancing opportunities? Most likely because, without prior discussion, the last thing anyone wants is to be pressurised into making rash, complex decisions at a time of harrowing grief. Sadly, those who ignore the deceased’s wishes at that crucial moment often regret their decision within days but can carry the burden of knowing they did not honour the deceased’s wishes for decades.

We know that adhering to a loved one’s wishes can ultimately assist in both the healing and the grieving processes so perhaps it is time for us to create our own win-win situation. By opening up the conversation about your own donation wishes now, you will undoubtedly assist your family in the future. Otherwise, how would they deal with the issue at a moment’s notice? Would they know?

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