Family ‘proud’ their loved one gave the gift of sight through organ donation

When Richard Still died in September 2022, his family were sure of his wishes to be an organ donor. One year on, reflecting for Organ Donation Week, they say that knowing his clear views helped them to make the decision to donate.

Posted on in News & Events

Richard’s partner, Lesley Clarke said: “He was very keen on organ donation; he just could not understand why we would not do it. I don’t know what I would have done if I’d not known his wishes, and was so pleased that he had made these clear to me.”

Richard was taken to Lincoln County Hospital in September 2022 after Lesley found him unresponsive at their home in Reepham.

Sadly, Richard (70) had experienced a catastrophic brain haemorrhage and would not recover.

Within two days of his arrival at hospital, Richard, who was a former nurse, keen musician and specialist in stained glass creation and conservation, became an organ donor.

Lesley said: “Everyone was so lovely, not at all pushy and so careful with how they spoke to us. On the day Richard died, I went with my sister to the hospital. Richard was moved to a small room next to the theatres and his life support was stopped. It was so gentle, peaceful and calm.

“Richard’s kidneys went to research, which he would have been really keen on. His cornea went to give someone their sight back.”

Lesley added: “Richard had many and varied interests. He had a keen intellect and an enquiring mind, as well as being very practical. To many he gave help and support, and even in death carried on helping others – by organ donation. I can best describe him as simply and genuinely a lovely man. And he was much loved. The crematorium was packed for his funeral.”

Lesley received a letter from the recipient of Richard’s cornea in January this year, giving thanks for the donation and explaining the difference it had made to them.

“It has made me realise how important organ donation is and what it could do,” Lesley explained. “I am really proud that Richard wanted to be an organ donor, and that this has led to someone regaining their sight.”

A permanent reminder of Richard’s donation is included in the memorial tree outside the main entrance at Lincoln County Hospital.

Lesley’s daughter Jen added: “I hadn’t seen the memorial tree so I decided to run past it one night and take a look. I was so proud to see Richard’s name on there.”

Organ Donation Week runs from Monday 18 to Sunday 24 September 2023.

According to data published by NHS Blood and Transplant, during the financial year 2022/23, there were 23 organ donors from Lincolnshire and 53 transplants. As of Sunday 3 September 2023, there were 105 people living in Lincolnshire on the waiting list for an organ donation.

NHS Blood and Transplant has set a target to get 25,000 more people to register to become organ donors this year.

Consultant Dr Wilbourn, who is part of Lincoln’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “It is a great privilege to be part of the ICU team and to provide care and support to patients and their families at what can be a difficult and devastating time in their lives. We work closely with colleagues such as our specialist nurse for organ donation to support families to ensure they can make informed choices and fulfil the wishes of their loved ones.

“By registering your organ donation decision and talking to your loved ones, it can help them to understand if you want to become a donor after you have died.

“We remember some of those who have chosen to make the life-changing decision to be organ donors through the memorial trees in the entrances of Lincoln and Boston hospitals.”