Heartbroken mum donates tragic son’s organs in historic first to save three lives

Lisa Cruise lost her 18-year-old son Lewis McDonough (Image: Darren Quinton/Birmingham Live)

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As an A&E nurse, Lisa Cruise is no stranger to helping families come to terms with a devastating loss.

And she knows how amid one family’s grief, the life-saving gift of an organ can have another “crying tears of happiness”.

So when son Lewis McDonough died of a cardiac arrest aged 18, she wanted some good to come of the tragedy.

Like so many other people, he had not signed the Organ Donation Register.

Lisa therefore became one of the first people to agree to donation under the new deemed consent rules the Daily Mirror helped become law in England – letting Lewis save three other lives.

Lisa, from Solihull, West Mids, said: “As a nurse, I had often supported families in coming to terms with the sudden loss of a loved one and even cared for patients who have gone on to be organ donors.

Lewis died following a sudden cardiac arrest
(Image: Darren Quinton/Birmingham Live)

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“However, I never in a million years thought I would ever be the one in that situation. Not least for my handsome, funny, full of life 18 year old son.

“Although I was already on the NHS Organ Donor Register, and aware of the recent change in the law, sadly it was never something we had properly discussed as a family.

Lewis as a young boy
(Image: Darren Quinton/Birmingham Live)

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“It was almost impossible getting Lewis to have a serious conversation! While I knew straightaway that organ donation was the right decision.”

The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2020 came in to force six months ago on Friday.

It was dubbed Max and Keira’s Law after Mirror campaigner Max Johnson, 12, and heart donor Keira Ball, nine, who saved his life.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic comparable data is still not yet available to assess any change in donation rates.

The Mirror campaigned for the law to be changed
(Image: Daily Mirror)

But data to October 31 shows 135 donated organs after being considered willing without having expressed it. These made up 26% of donations and 341 transplants.

“I would urge everyone to speak with your friends and family today,” Lisa added.

“To know that Lewis has saved lives, is our one comfort. I kept thinking about how that while we were hearing the worst possible news, others would be getting those life-changing calls and crying tears of happiness. That was what kept me going.”

Since April 2016, more than 2000 across the UK have died while waiting for an organ transplant.

Prior to the law change, around 80% of people in England said that they supported organ donation in principle, but only 38% had actually recorded their decision to donate.

When asked, the majority said they just had not got around to it.

Anthony Clarkson, director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “It is still early days but we have been really encouraged by the levels of support for organ donation and the new law.”

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