My eldest son Barney was a typical boy, cheeky and headstrong, long and lean like his dad, Rob. He played soccer. He was into collecting Pokemon cards and playing Stars Wars computer games. He was learning to surf and loved being in the water.
Barney was nine years and 22 days old when he died. He fell ill with Influenza B and suffered a febrile seizure whilst in the bath.
Rob performed CPR while I phoned the ambulance. Together they managed to get a pulse, but unfortunately they couldn’t get him to breathe on his own.
Barney was kept on life support for two days before his organs began shutting down and he was declared brain dead. Rob and I are registered organ donors. So when we were asked if we would consider donating Barney’s organs, Rob and I just looked at each other and said “Yes, that’s exactly what Barney would want.” Besides if Barney was in need of an organ to keep him alive we would have gratefully accepted one.
Barney’s lungs, kidneys and liver saved the lives of four very ill people. An adult, two teens and a child of similar age to Barney. Unfortunately there was no compatible recipient for his big, strong, beautiful heart (that never missed a beat after they got it going again) but it was donated to research along with his corneas. All research conducted adding to the body of knowledge, to help save lives in the future.
I don’t think you ever get over the death of a child. The pain becomes an ache that never leaves and it doesn’t get any easier. You just somehow learn to live with it.
We still have Sam, Barney’s younger brother, to live for, and we now have a new baby daughter Lucy, and an even newer baby son Ben, to tell all our Barney stories to.
We have recently heard from one recipient, a teenager who received Barney’s lungs. She is living a very happy, healthy and full life. She expressed extreme gratitude for her organ donor and donor family. We pray for Barney’s other recipients everyday and hope they might one day find the courage to contact us.
In the mean time, we thank God for the Gift of Barney and for Barney’s Gifts.