Young Gloucestershire mother gifted life to five others following sudden death
By Matt Hall | 20th September 2021
Young Gloucestershire mother Faye Rathbone, 33, helped to save the lives of five people through the gift of Organ Donation when she died suddenly. She donated her heart, kidneys and liver.
After Faye died, her mother and partner from Cam, near Dursley, decided to talk publicly about her death for the first time to mark Organ Donation Week starting today (Monday September 20) to encourage families to talk about their organ donation decision.
Faye's mother, Sharon, said: "We have decided to talk openly now in the hope we can help other families realise that they simply must talk about organ donation before it is too late.
"We knew straight away what she wanted because she had talked to us about it and had been on the NHS Organ Donor Register for years.
"It was just a given that she had wanted to donate her organs. There were no second thoughts. We were certain -we didn't question anything."
A national advertising campaign is currently running urging people to speak with their loved ones and "Leave them certain" of their organ donation decision.
Faye died after she had taken son William, then aged four, for a family day out to a farm park at nearby Berkeley with friends.
After a tiring day, that night Faye told her partner, James Colborn, she had a sore throat but soon after, in the middle of the night, she collapsed. James gave Faye CPR and rang for an ambulance.
"She was choking," said James. "I gave her CPR for what felt like an eternity."
Faye was rushed to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and admitted to the Department of Critical Care.
Her mother, Sharon said: "James was hoping for a miracle but I think I already knew she had gone.
"I told her I would look after the children and James. It was ok. William and his little sister, Esme (now two-and-a-half) would be ok. I loved her so much. I never told her that enough."
Specialist Organ Donation Nurse Rebecca Hall supported the family and took little William into Faye's hospital room to gently bring him round to the idea that Faye wouldn't be coming home.
She said: "I introduced William to the concept of making a memory box for his Mum and he prepared some colouring for her. He was so good. He had a little t-shirt on with stars on it and Sharon, James and I used a stars analogy.
"They had a dog, Bramble which had died recently. We said mummy was very poorly and she had hurt her head. The doctors and nurses had tried very hard to make it better, but she now had a very special job to do and she was now going to look after Bramble in the sky. She was going to be a star he could see at night."
And Faye's mother added: "For three or four nights after his mummy died I took William outside and he looked for her star. Then one night he told me 'there's mummy' ".
It was later confirmed that Faye had died from a hypoxic brain injury secondary to an acute airway obstruction caused by pharyngitis.
One of Faye's kidneys went to a woman who had been waiting five years for a transplant and the family had a thank you card from her three weeks after Faye had donated.
Even though the law around organ donation in England has now changed to an 'opt out' system, families will still always be consulted before organ donation goes ahead.
During Organ Donation Week people are being urged to make their organ donation decision and share it with their friends and family.
Partner James said: "To know people are now better for Faye's actions means a lot to us. Her life was not wasted. To make the choice to be on the NHS Organ Donor Register and be prepared to give the gift of life to others just sums Faye up. She was totally unselfish. She is always here with us."
To find out more, or to register your organ donation decision, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23. Users of the NHS app can also use this to register or check and update their preferences.
Copyright 2021 Moose Partnership Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any content is strictly forbidden without prior permission.