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Donor Hero: Maureen Kaye - Our marvelous Mum

In 2010, the Absolom Family lost its beloved wife, mother, and grandmother, Maureen Kaye. This is the story of this remarkable woman, and the experiences of their family, as told by daughters, Rebecca and Cassie. Our very small family consisted of our Mum and Dad, their two daughters, our partners, and one granddaughter at the time of Mum’s passing. We shared a strong and loving bond and always enjoyed spending time together doing family things. Mum and Dad worked hard to raise their girls in a loving and supportive home, allowing us to do the things we enjoyed. “Mum’s taxi” worked hard of a weekend, running us girls to and from sport, horses, friends’ houses – all whilst supporting her own parents who lived with us and needed ongoing care. As Mum was an only child, she spent many of her years, along with Dad, supporting her own parents as they grew older. Mum just loved to care for and help others. One Tuesday night we received a call from Dad who told us that Mum had suffered what was thought to be a minor stroke. Mum was taken to the Royal Hobart Hospital, where we were advised that she had suffered a catastrophic aneurism – not a stroke, which was irreversible. This came as a massive shock to our family – it was so sudden and so unexpected. As the hours since Mum took ill grew longer, we were asked about the possibility of organ donation. We had no idea of Mum’s wish, as like most families we never even talked about death - let alone organ and tissue donation. So, we as a family discussed what we thought Mum would want. Mum was the most loving, generous, compassionate woman who always put others before herself. As a family, we made the decision to proceed with the donation believing if Mum were able to make that decision, it is what she too would have chosen. The retrieval and gifting of Mum’s organs occurred on a very special day for our family. It was Mum and Dad’s eldest daughter Cassie’s 39th birthday. 39 years from the day Mum gave life to her first born, she was again giving the hope of new life to five others around the country. Receiving two cards from recipients of Mum’s organs has given us strength through this journey. It gives us great peace to know that Mum’s organs have been accepted by these recipients, and it gives us further strength to know that Mum would be so proud of our decision. Over the years since Mum’s passing we have become passionate advocates for promoting organ and tissue donation to as many people as we can. Being part of Donor Families Australia brings a great feeling of support and empowerment as we share our journey with others who have had the same experiences as our family. It’s one thing to lose a loved one, but to be part of a Donor Family takes things to a completely different level. There is comfort in being part of a group where everyone understands – and where you don’t feel so alone in your journey. Only three short months ago, we lost our dear Dad. Unfortunately, Dad was unable to be an organ donor due to his illness. Dad too was a strong advocate for organ donation and attended many events with us over the years. He was so proud of his beautiful wife, and our amazing Mum, and the gift that she left behind. We were blessed to have amazing parents – and the fact that Mum was able to assist five others with a greater quality of life gives us so much comfort and pride. We know they are now reunited, and that they will hopefully watch over us for the remainder of our lives too.

Rebecca Free and Cassie Absolom

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