When Darley Dale teenager Jessica Iddon died following a car crash, her organs were used to give five people a chance to live, and her stem cells used to help countless others. Her mother, Lindsey Adderson, now tells her tragic tale in the hope of convincing others to become lifesavers like Jessica...
“MY brain felt like it went into slow motion” Lindsey said as she remembered getting the phone call to say her daughter had been in a car crash. “The next thing I knew, I was screaming.”
17-year-old Jessica had been taken to Chesterfield Royal Hospital following the accident outside the Red Lion pub, in Stone Edge, on June 1 2008.
As she looked at her beautiful girl, Lindsey knew she was brain dead, and it was only a matter of time before she passed away.
“We own a field and there were buttercups in it,” Lindsey said.
“I can remember turning to my husband and saying ‘just unplug her and let her lie in the field with the buttercups’ – because it was sunny and she could look up at the sky.”
The grieving mother knew however that she had to comply with Jessica’s wishes, and only a few weeks before she told her she wanted to donate her organs.
Jessica’s body was kept alive on life support for 39 hours while doctors confirmed she was brain dead, during this time her friends were allowed to say their goodbyes to her.
“They were queuing, they literally lined the corridors - it was heartbreaking,” Lindsey recalled.
“One boy crawled across the floor like he was in pain.”
After Jessica had passed away, Lindsey got a surprise card from the mother of a two-year-old girl called Ella who received her liver.
It read: “Before our daughter Ella received the wonderful gift from your daughter Jessica, Ella had a very poor quality of life. She spent all her time in hospital.
“But now Ella is able to run around in our garden and jump on her trampoline. From the bottom of our hearts, we cannot thank you enough.”
Lindsey sobbed when she first read it.
“It was a beautiful card written so lovingly and eloquently,” the 44–year–old continued.
“Even now when I read it, it makes me cry, but it still gives me comfort.
“Four years on and Jessica’s family is so proud she made these lives carry on.
“She gave these families the opportunity to make memories, happy ones.”
It was in Jessica’s nature to help others, even in death.
“As a person she was just bubbly, loving, family-orientated and spent her life trying to contradict her looks,” Lindsey said.
“She was really clever and wanted to be a journalist.
“She was an absolute joy to have around.”
Inspired by her daughter’s sacrifice, Lindsey is now campaigning to encourage more people to become organ donors.
She explained: “I would like everybody to talk to each other and to think if you aren’t prepared to be an organ donor are you prepared to never take an organ if anything ever goes happens to you? Because you shouldn’t take without giving.”
Despite her beliefs, Lindsey is against the proposed ‘opt out’ system, which would mean people would automatically be registered as organ donors unless they specifically opted out of it.
“What people don’t realise is it’s a massive commitment,” She added.
“It’s a massive decision to make, you don’t get to say goodbye to that person, or hold them in our arms and say goodbye to them as they pass away. They go into an operating theatre and you wait for a nurse to call you and tell you their heart has stopped beating.”
According to NHS Blood and Transplant, between April 2011 and March 2012:
l 3,960 organ transplants were carried out, thanks to the generosity of 2,143 donors.
l 1,107 lives were saved in the UK through a heart, lung, liver or combined heart/lungs, liver/kidney or liver/pancreas transplant.
l 2,846 patients’ lives were dramatically improved by a kidney or pancreas transplants.
l A further 3,521 people had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.
l A record number of 674 kidney transplants from donors after circulatory death took place and accounted for one in four of all kidney transplants.
l More than 19 million people have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register to date, to join them, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk Alternatively, you can call the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 or text ‘SAVE’ to 84118.