Jo and Tim had everything ahead of them. After four happy years together, they were planning to build their dream home. Jo never dreamed that this year, she would be faced with making a heartbreaking decision on Tim’s behalf – would he want to be an organ donor.
In January, 49-year-old Tim was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) after suffering an aneurysm rupture. It was there his partner Jo was given the devastating news that he was on life support and the aneurysm had caused brain death.
During a meeting to discuss end of life care, a member from the DonateLife team raised the option of organ donation with Tim’s family – something they hadn’t considered.
“Tim was a very versatile tradesperson, he turned his hand to lots and lots of things. He loved it when he could be the one to fix the problem when no one else could. Most places he worked he was nicknamed ‘Mr fix it’,” Jo said.
“So when Edi (Tim’s mum) and I thought about organ donation, we looked at each other and thought, he loved being the one to fix things. He would have been thrilled that he could be the one to help ‘fix’ someone - so it just sort of fit.”
As the ICU and medical donation specialist team planned the surgery to enable Tim’s donation, they made every effort to support Jo an Edi through the emotional time.
"For us it was a positive thing to come out of a very negative situation. Never at any point did we feel pressured. The hardest part for us was keeping him on life support the extra 24-hours, because when he was breathing and warm – he was still alive to me,” Jo said.
“All the little things the staff did for Tim made it so much easier, every nurse that cared for him brought in their phones to play his favourite songs – the DonateLife team played his favourite playlist during his surgery. That gesture was something we took with us through to Tim’s funeral - we had a guitarist playing, ‘Maybe it’s time’.”
Although many people are registered as an organ donor, only a small number of people end up in a position where it is a possibility. Jo said she and Tim had never discussed organ donation during their relationship.
“It would have been a lot easier for me if we had talked about it, I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of night thinking ‘have I done the right thing’,” Jo said.
“My advice to anyone, is to just have the conversation and hope you never have to put it in to practice.”
To find out more on how you can register visit https://donatelife.gov.au/register-donor-today