A TEENAGER who died from a brain aneurysm has helped a record number of people, including five children, through organ donation.
Jemima Layzell, who died aged 13 in 2012, donated her heart, pancreas, lungs, small bowel and liver. That meant Jemima, of Horton near Ilminster, helped eight people.
Her unique status has only just been recognised after NHS Blood & Transplant checked historical donor records for Organ Donation Week 2017.
Jemima’s parents said she was clever, compassionate and creative – and would’ve been very proud of her legacy.
Sophy and Harvey Layzell said they knew Jemima was willing to be a donor because they had spoken about it a couple of weeks before her death, after someone they knew had died.
Sophy, 43, a drama tutor, said: “They were on the register but their organs couldn’t be donated because of the circumstances of their death.
“Jemima had never heard of organ donation before and found it a little bit unsettling but totally understood the importance of it.
“Everyone wants their child to be special and unique and this among other things makes us very proud.”
NHS Blood & Transplant said no other donor had helped as many people.
Jemima’s heart, small bowel and pancreas were transplanted into three different people – and two people received her kidneys.
Her liver was split and transplanted into a further two people and both her lungs were transplanted into one patient.
Normally, a donation results in 2.6 transplants and NHS Blood & Transplant said eight was very unusual.
Sophy said: “Shortly after Jemima died, we watched a programme about children awaiting heart transplants and being fitted with Berlin hearts in Great Ormond Street Hospital. It affirmed for us that saying no would have been denying eight other people the chance for life, especially over Jemima’s heart, which Harvey had felt uncomfortable about donating at the time.”
Sophy and Harvey are now encouraging parents to talk about organ donation.
“Every parent’s instinct is to say no, as we are programmed to protect out child. It’s only with prior knowledge of Jemima’s agreement that we were able to say yes. Jemima was lovely – clever, funny, compassionate and creative – and we feel sure she would be very proud of her legacy.”
Sophy, Harvey and Jemima’s sister Amelia run The Jemima Layzell Trust, which helps young people with brain injuries and promotes organ donation.
NHS Blood & Transplant said hundreds of people are still dying unnecessarily while waiting for a transplant as too many families say no.
The organisation said that last year 457 people died waiting for a transplant, including 14 children.
There are currently 6,414 people on the transplant waiting list.