The widow of the co-founder of the Wickerman Festival in Dumfries and Galloway Jamie Gilroy, has revealed that his transplanted organs have been used to save or enhance the lives of several other people, following his death from a gunshot wound.
Patsy Gilroy, a former Convenor of Dumfries and Galloway Council, was speaking after receiving the Order of St John award at a ceremony to honour the families of Scots whose loved ones gave permission for transplant surgery in the last year.
Jamie Gilroy, who died aged 66, launched the hugely popular music event in 2000. He was found critically injured at the venue, the family farm at Dundrennan near Kirkcudbright, just before Christmas last year. Police concluded after an investigation that no one else was involved in the incident.
His wife of 40 years was one of 38 family representatives to receive the award from Major General Mark Strudwick, the Prior (Head) of the care charity St John Scotland, which has been running the ceremony in conjunction with the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) service for three years.
She received a badge bearing the words “Add life: Give Hope” and heard General Strudwick tell the gathering of 120 family members and friends: “The courage of these families, to make the decision to grant permission for organ donation at a time of great loss, is both humbling and inspiring.”
Patsy Gilroy was in London to be with her daughter Jennie, who was receiving treatment for breast cancer, when she received a phone call telling her that her husband had been found with a gunshot wound to the head.
“We had to wait until Jennie’s chemotherapy was completed – we couldn’t rush that - then start the four hour journey home. We had a plenty of time to contemplate what had gone on. I spoke to my brother-in-law Pete who had got to the hospital. Jamie was still alive then, but had suffered irreparable damage to his brain. It was clear he was not going to survive and the medical people had asked if we would consider organ donation.
“Pete asked me what I thought and I said, ‘Jamie is not going to live, so why not?’ Somebody else might survive if they get the chance, but Jen and I talked about it all the way up and when we got to the hospital in Dumfries there was a very nice nurse there who explained what was involved. It was all very complicated.
“I’m a person quite used to making hard decisions. When my son George died in a car crash (in Australia) when he was 19, there was a lot of opportunity to wallow in it, but that’s not a good place to be. You have to be positive.
“Jen and I discussed it all and came to the conclusion that my husband didn’t expect us to be in this situation (considering organ donation) and felt that actually, it would mean he hadn’t got it all his own way.
“You are so cross, so upset and I kind of thought, well someone else is going to benefit from this, even if we aren’t.”
The NHS Blood and Transplant service revealed recently that the number of organ donations and transplants has fallen in the UK for the first time in 11 years. Figures show they are down by five percent on the previous year. In line with most other years, more than 40 percent of families turned down requests for donations on the death of a loved one.
Sally Johnston, the Director of Donation and Transplantation at NHSBT recently issued an appeal to potential donors to tell their loved ones: “We understand that families are expected to consider donation in their darkest hour, so we would remind everyone to tell those closest to them now, if they wish to donate their organs, then record that decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Should the time come, their family will know that they want to donate their organs and help to save others.”
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk, call 0300123 2323 or text SAVE to 62323.