Organ donation series: Family's gifts of life bring comfort after death

New Zealand Herald | Susan Edmond

New Zealand has one of the developed world's lowest organ donation rates, sparking concern more must be done to save lives. In this series, Susan Edmonds explores the importance of having a life-giving conversation with your loved ones.

Jaime Bigwood, who took part in the decision to donate her mother's organs, wants to see more education about the donation process so people better understand how it works. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

Jaime Bigwood was on the morning commute to her wine marketing job in London when she found out her mother had suffered a massive brain bleed back home in New Zealand.

There was no warning. Bigwood's mother, Mary Crawford, collapsed on the evening of Valentine's Day 2005, just three months after marrying her new husband, Tony Eastmure.

The 48-year-old regained consciousness briefly but never stabilised and her condition deteriorated rapidly. Bigwood, then 27, took the first available flight home to Wellington. Three days later, Crawford's life support was turned off.

What followed is among the hardest conversations a family will ever have — and one most families thankfully won't.

Crawford's children and other family and a friend sat in the hospital family room as a donor co-ordinator from Organ Donation New Zealand came to talk to them. Continue reading