Fiona Braidwood died after suffering a serious head injury when she lost control of her vehicle on a country road. Her mum Vicki Caldwell knew her
Fiona Braidwood died after suffering a serious head injury when she lost control of her vehicle on a country road. Her mum Vicki Caldwell knew her daughter was passionate about organ donation, so Fiona’s lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas went to patients in desperate need of a transplant. Her heart was also donated to medical research. Vicki, 56, said: “Four people had the gift of life from Fi’s decision.
“It was something positive to come out of such trauma and has been helpful in coping with the grief.”
Fiona decided she wanted to join the donor register when she was 14 and made her wishes known to her mum and dad Kenny Braidwood, 60.
Vicki, of Banwell, North Somerset, said: “As parents we both remember her coming downstairs to tell us what she had done.
“There were many follow-up conversations in which she would say, ‘Why wouldn’t you do it if you can save someone’s life?
“‘It’s not like you are going to need those organs any more,’ in the matter- of-fact way that Fi would tackle a lot of difficult issues. We were so proud of her. It’s one of those conversations that you never forget.”
Fiona, who had a brother Euan, 19, and sister Ally, 24, had been on the cusp of sitting her A-levels and was hoping to study geography at Durham University.
She had ambitions of becoming a civil servant involved in government policy and stood up for things she believed in, supporting campaigns like Save the Children and Oxfam.
After the accident in 2016, she was airlifted to hospital, where doctors broke the news to her devastated parents that she would not survive.
Her organs were so small that Vicki and Kenny were told they might be used for children, but in the end they went to people her own age.
Vicki wants other families to discuss their feelings about organ donation in case they ever find themselves in the same horrific situation.
She said: “All your emotions are fighting against what you are hearing, and then you are asked about organ donation. It is too hard to process and make a decision about if you are not aware of life wishes.
“Organ donation was something Fi talked about regularly. It was one thing we didn’t have to think about.
“When we heard the news that she wasn’t going to survive the accident, we were almost waiting for the opportunity to tell someone she would want to donate her organs.” The family have received letters from some of the people whose lives were transformed by the gift of Fiona’s organs.
Vicki said: “Fi’s decision is like a pebble in a pond, the impact ripples out. Very few people are in a position where they can donate their organs.
“Part of the healing process has been to give Fi a voice in telling her story. I want people to be inspired.”
Vicki is sharing her story in support of the new Leave Them Certain campaign by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).
It follows a change in the law last year in England, which means all adults are seen as willing to donate, unless they opt out or are in an excluded group.
Research suggests only 39 percent of people have shared their decision with loved ones.
Anthony Clarkson, of NHSBT, said: “Unfortunately we see firsthand the impact not knowing has on families when the first time they consider their loved one’s wishes is when they are seriously ill or have already died.
“Talk to your friends, talk to your family. Even though the law has changed, you can still sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register to provide your family with added reassurance. Please don’t wait. Have the conversation today.”
- To find out more or join the register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.