This week is national organ donation week. Here Huddersfield mum Olwen Craib reveals how her daughter Beccy Louise Mawson saved the lives of others by donating her organs and has appealed for others to sign up on the donor register.
A Huddersfield mum whose daughter’s heart was successfully transplanted into a 15-year-old girl has today appealed for more people to join the organ donor list.
Beccy Louise Mawson was just 25 when she died in December 2011 and now her mum wants more people to sign up and tell their families their wishes to save or improve lives.
Mum Olwen Craib, a childcare assistant from Birkby, has spoken out for the first time about her family’s tragedy to promote awareness as part of the national organ donation week which starts next Monday.
She said: “This is Beccy’s legacy. My daughter was so lovely. She was kind and extremely caring, she had a heart of gold, she was always laughing and was really funny. She lit up the room with her smile and hadn’t a bad word for anyone, I was so proud of her and still am.”
Beccy was a former pupil at Royds Hall High School and had previously worked in a solicitors’ office. As she got older her ambition was to work and support troubled teenagers. She enjoyed keeping fit, was a regular at the gym, enjoyed swimming and would walk everywhere whatever the distance. She loved karate and attained her black belt in her teenage years.
Sadly Beccy lost her fight for life due to ongoing health issues in the intensive care unit at HRI. She had been admitted to hospital 11 days before where Olwen learned the devastating and unexpected news that her daughter was not going to recover.
Beccy was placed into an induced coma but the doctors brought her round so her mum, dad and all her family could say their goodbyes. Beccy did go on fighting for another nine days but stayed in an induced coma.
During that time in hospital Olwen was asked if she had considered organ donation. She knew her answer straight away as, coincidently, she had helped her son Ross with a school project for an organ donation a few months earlier.
Olwen said: “We had researched the whole process and how it works and how it can make a difference to families so I just knew when I was asked. I had all the knowledge to make that decision, there really was no question about it for me, I never gave it a second thought, I said ‘yes’ straight away.
“There was no pressure. I knew it was what Beccy would have wanted. I did find out later from her friends she had talked to them about organ donation and had said she would be happy to donate her organs. Confirming what I knew in my heart, I knew my daughter and how so caring she was.”
Two years ago on the anniversary of Beccy’s passing a letter arrived which meant the world to the family.
It was sent via the transplant co-ordinators from the girl who had received Beccy’s heart, saying how well she is doing and all her future plans.
Olwen, 51, who works at Christ Church playgroup in Moldgreen, treasures this letter and has gone on to receive another one since.
She said, “I look at them and think, ‘my little girl has done this’. This is her gift and I want her story to be her legacy.
“It was a joy to know she has Beccy’s heart and is living her life and has her future ahead. I had wondered and so to get that letter made all the difference and confirmed to me my decision in the intensive care unit that night had been the right one.
“She is very lucky to have my Beccy’s loving heart and to get her letter on the anniversary of Beccy’s passing was amazing.”
A picture of Beccy as a bridesmaid at Olwen’s wedding to husband John 14 years ago is a special one, as are many smiley photos of Beccy from her being a baby to growing up. She has also Beccy’s handprints and some of her hair as treasured keepsakes.
Recalling the time of the decision, Olwen says, the transplant nurse at the hospital, Jayne, “was wonderful”.
She added: “She was really compassionate about what had happened, she did not try and talk me into it, she just asked how I would feel about organ donation portraying empathy and sensitivity. But, luckily, I was in a position where I knew the answer. For a lot of families that is not the case.
“So this is why I would say, as well as signing up to the organ donor register, always let your loved ones know, as they may have to make the decision for you after you have gone.”
After Beccy’s passing Olwen relied heavily on the support of the Kirkwood Hospice family care team and want to thank them so much, especially Tracy who helped her so much with her emotions and the devastating loss of her daughter. She says, she would not be where she is today without all her “amazing” help and advice.
Olwen, said: “There is not a day goes by without me thinking of Beccy. She pops into my head hundreds of times a day. I have my memories and my photos and in them all Beccy is smiling. That’s how special she was and will always be.
“Above all else, I want my story to make a difference.”
How to become an organ donor
Anyone can register to donate their organs and tissue when they die, regardless of their age.
Becoming an organ donor only takes a few minutes to register online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/register-your-details . The form will take no more than two minutes to complete.
Sadly, on average, around 3 people die every day waiting for a suitable organ.
When you register you will be sent an organ donor card. If anyone has lost their card or needs a new one call us on 0300 123 23 23.