Donor Hero: Laima Mutch
by parents Tracey and Steve Mutch
I'm Tracey and would love to share our cherished daughter Laima's story with you. It's just going on 15 years since we lost our beautiful girl and we still haven't come to terms with it. Laima was not only my best friend, she was my soulmate, we did everything together. Ours was a very special relationship that not too many mothers get to have with their daughters.
Laima was a beautiful caring girl who absolutely loved all her family and extended family... she had her own quirky sense of dress and hairstyles... at family get-togethers her cousins, aunts and uncles always waited in anticipation as to what Laima would be wearing and also what hairstyle or colour she would have. She loved being the centre of attention which required no effort as she was loved so much by all. Laima loved being with her cousins who she grew up with and had a very strong bond to all.
While growing up we had an extremely open household where we'd talk about anything and everything... and I mean everything, nothing was off limits but as Laima matured we often talked about donating organs if anything should happen to us. Laima had always made her intentions clear that if something ever happened to her that she would want the chance to give others a life that she herself would no longer have.
One afternoon while at work I received a call from my husband saying that Laima was being rushed to The Alfred as she wasn't breathing. My manager quickly arranged a cab for me and off I raced... when I arrived at the hospital I was taken into emergency to see her... the moment that I did I knew in my heart I had lost my precious girl forever.
Before I go any further about her stay in the hospital... I'd just like to share the circumstances leading up to Laima being at The Alfred... Laima had being on a break at work, a job at which she loved and she was thought very highly of, at her workplace as she'd been the receptionist for nearly 8 years. While on her break a passer-by saw Laima collapse to the ground and went rushing over to her, she ran into her workplace to raise the alarm about Laimas collapse and not breathing and the staff came running out, one ran a couple of doors up to a drs office and upon him seeing Laima an ambulance was called. Then my husband got the call that Laima was being rushed to The Alfred as she wasn't responding... I was first to arrive at the hospital as I worked close by and once my husband Steve arrived and met me in emergency, it was there that we were told that Laima had suffered a category 5 - fatal brain aneurysm. The head radiologist then took us both into the back room to show us Laimas brain scans, highlighting the extensive, irreversible damage the aneurysm had caused. His point for doing this was to show us that no matter what they do in an attempt to save her life, they wouldn't be able to... which my husband and I picked up on. By this stage her younger brothers and their girlfriends whom also lived with us at the time had arrived.
My husband rang one of my sisters who notified the rest of the family, all who rushed to be by our sides during this time. Laima was operated on, they tried coiling her aneurysm and inserted a valve to relieve the pressure of her brain... the operation took some hours and by 11pm, 9hrs after arriving at the hospital we all were patiently or impatiently waiting to see her... but they wouldn't allow us to.
Outside of the ICU was a large waiting room with wooden bench seats, an old room which we would all call home for the next 6 nights. The next morning we were allowed to visit Laima in pairs. Seeing our beautiful girl wired up to machines on every corner of her bed couldn't have been more heartbreaking. The staff were fantastic... the nursing staff looked after her as if she was their own, we knew then she was in the right place. The head Drs of ICU would have 2 daily meetings with us each day. They were thinking outside of the box, while in rare cases a young adult may suffer from an aneurysm, one of this magnitude is very much unheard of for someone in their 20s. As the days passed, everything possible was tried, including new procedures which would be documented as research, and even if unsuccessful for Laima, would only benefit future victims of brain aneurysms.
My 2 sisters, a brother-in-law Ian who I call a brother as I've known him since I was 9, 3 of my nephews, and my mum stayed with us every night, never going home. We were all in disbelief that this was happening to us, surely we might see this type of thing on a TV show, or hear of it happening to other family's, but not ours! We're invincible, or so we thought. Those hard wooden benches didn't help with sleep... I spent my nights by Laimas side, with lengthy stays from her brothers. It was my time to be with her and tell her how much I loved her... I'd help the nurses wash her down and moisturise her... I cherished helping them when they offered as it was a special time that I knew I was running out of. My brother and his family would arrive 7am daily and stay late into the night. Each day we would go down and have a family breakfast, a family lunch and afternoon tea... and dinner was fend for yourselves somewhere nearby or go without. But without all my family there I don't know how we would've gotten through it all for the 6 nights.
My husband and myself approached staff and told them of Laima's wishes that her organs be donated. But day after day the head Drs kept trying new ideas, they weren't willing to give up, even though deep down I think they themselves knew that Laima couldn't be helped, I hope all their efforts didn't come in vain.
It was on the 6th night that Laima passed away... next thing my husband, sons and myself were meeting with a lovely lady to go over that we all agreed to Laima's wish to donate her organs and discuss which organs we were prepared to donate. We were informed that due to Laima's rare blood type that recipients may not be found and once the call was placed out about Laima's organs the phone was quiet... it was quiet for what seemed an eternity. Before we knew it, the phone was bombarded as calls were coming in from all over Australia, it was a good sign that Laima's final wish could be granted. After some time we all said our farewells to our beloved daughter and sister, as she was rushed back into surgery one last time, this time to see if she could save some lives.
In Laima's decision to be an organ donor she was able to save 6 lives and give the gift of sight to 2... in her passing her wish came true. Laima had just turned 26, and although it's been a tough 10 years, I know it will be something we will never recover from... it always brings a smile to our face that our beautiful girl in her passing was a donor and saved so many lives... she'd be looking down herself and feeling so proud.
Tracey & Steve