Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lochie lives on in more hearts than ours.

This is not really my story to write, it was not my child, but I loved him immensely when he was here and I miss him painfully now he isn't. I recently did a brief post for a friend looking for people for some organ transplant research, I was just helping out another Mumprener with her business.

But it got me thinking about organ donations again.

About Lochie.

About the people who now live thanks to receiving his gifts.

They were Lochie's gifts, but more so they were gifts from his parents. Parents who woke one Easter Tuesday morning and started the day like normal, with three healthy children and after unfortunate and extraordinary circumstances would have to kiss their son goodbye for the last time. At the same time they made the extremely unselfish decision to donate his organs.

At least seven other children now live thanks to this decision.

Lochie was three years and eight months old when he died in Intensive Care at Royal Children's Hospital.

Organ receipients don't know my sister and her family. They know they received organs from a male child from Victoria, aged three.

They have the option to write letters to the donor family through the organ donor organisation. The letters go through the agency to keep the privacy of each family, as they should.

Initially there were a couple of letters to say thanks, and a few lines about the child and how their health had improved.

Then they stopped.

And this is where I have an issue. Why did they stop? Do the families of those who are now alive forget about the decision that was made so courageously by Lochie's parents?

Do they worry what to say, or that their words may be upsetting? Have they just moved on with their now healthy lives?

Because we still have a missing piece. We celebrate a childs birthday with the birthday boy not there. We send balloons to heaven and think about what he might have liked for Christmas this year, would he still believe in Santa? What would he have been like at school? We wish he could have made it to his first day of kinder that he was so looking forward to.

Sending a card just once a year to say;

"We hope you are well and we continue as always to thank you for the decision you made, which changed our lives and gave our child and us, so much."
Best wishes,

Is this too much to ask?

Don't think for one moment Lochie's parents would ever expect this, but this is what makes me even angrier, they did so much for others and expect nothing, zip, nadda in return, they even make excuses for people that never ever said thank you.

I am not so forgiving.

I want the world to praise them, (and any other parent who makes this decision) out loud, to say, we remember what you did and your child. We celebrate that your child still lives on in us.

I want them to add their organ donor to their Christmas card list, to say thank you every year, you made the right decision, you really gave the ungiveable, the gift of life.

And if they find that hard to do, then shame on them. Hard is a small white coffin lowered into the ground with your child inside it.

What I really really want right now is to be wrapping a present to put under my tree, with a gift card that says "Lochie".

I can't, but if anyone in your family, or even a good friend is the lucky receiver of an organ, maybe you could put pen to paper this Christmas and remind the donor family they are fabulous people, and you do remember them from time to time.

Post Script
Added Tues30 November
Lochie's family write a response.


  1. No words. No words at all. Just my heart hurting for the family, for you. So wanting that present under the tree.

    Knowing those families whose world is better because of him.

    No words.

  2. Oh Claire, this is beautiful.

    It's hard to know why the thank yous stop.

    I suspect a resistance to open an "old wound" for want of a better word is why some would not send another card.

    My friend was the recipient of a liver when she was a toddler... she thinks about her donor and donor family daily and it has caused her so much guilt that she lives when their son doesn't - she cannot bring herself to send the letters she writes for them.

    I'm so sorry for your loss - and those words don't carry much but know that I mean them.

    Glowless xxx

  3. (hugs)
    I am so sorry too that they (you) had to say goodbye to Lochie.
    I feel for Lochie's family too... it's hard to imagine being in that situation making a decision like that...heartwrenching.
    Then to not know anything, ever about the outcome of that incredible gift.
    Though I do see Glowless's

  4. Oh so heartbreaking. How wonderful of Lochie's parents to give the gift of life. I don't know why the letter stop. As an ex-journo I've been priveleged to meet recipients and the donor families who have managed to evade the red/privacy tape and find each other, often forming life-long friendships. I know if it was me, I would want to say thank you every single day.RIP dear Lochie.

  5. I've said it before I think, but happily say it again: your sister's family is amazing and they absolutely, 100% did a wonderful, selfless thing on the back of the biggest tragedy any family could ever experience.

  6. I have struggled to write this. I have so much to say but can't articulate it.
    Sending you and your sister's family lots of love. What a beautiful gift Lochie has been able to give to so many families. It upsets me that you are feeling frustrated by the lack of written thanks. Who knows why the letters stopped. Maybe they thought it would be too hard to keep hearing from them? I don't know. When we donated my brother's organs, I originally didn't want to hear from people straight away. I found it too difficult. Looking back I don't know why, but this was my reaction. I was in denial for a good while though. But later on we got letters. Gee it is tough. I don't know why it has stopped for you. But I know that if I received a transplant, I would always want to send letters. a card here and there. absolutely. The balloons for Lochie are a lovely thing to do. Thinking of you all, especially at Christmas.
    Lots of love,
    Heidi xo

  7. Oh Cobs, I can still so vividly remember your horrific phone call telling me of Lochie's accident. I automatically thought of all the photos you displayed with sheer pride on the wall of our little room in Dublin. The proudest of proud Aunties, 'your boys' were everything to you.

    I think of T & A so very very often and marvel at their strength to put one foot in front of the other and survive. From what I've seen of T she does it so humbly, you all do.

    You know I think of you & your family every April, and it devastates me that you are hurting like this. It gives us all something to think about.

    M xx

  8. thanks meg xxx never as easy as it always put on a different face when out in the public...

  9. Balling my eyes!!
    We donated my nans organs. Someone has her eyes X

  10. my god. I have no idea what to write here, can't think of a reason that the letters would stop, The heartache you must all experience after such loss just seems impossible....I am really wishing so much that your family get that letter or card this, so, much

    gill xo

  11. We donated my Nan's organs and received a letter a month later from a 28 year old man who received her corneas. She was such a loving and caring person when she was here, it was so fitting that would help someone even after she was gone!

    We haven't heard from the man since, but having that initial contact with him was enough to fill me with a lifetime of pride.

    I won't pretend I understand how your sister and her family about dear little Lochie, but they did an incredibly selfless thing. I hope that somewhere, somehow along the lines, they receive a little note or gesture to remind them that their decision to donate Lochie's organs was and is still a beautiful, much appreciated gift xx

  12. I'm sure they won't ever forget and will be forever grateful. Maybe they haven't known grief like they have probably know fear and maybe there is a tinge of embarassment that they are the lucky ones and that it is only pure chance that the boot isn't on the other foot. I hope things one day get a little easier for you and your family.

    PS - I'm over from Weekend rewind.

  13. Aarrgh. I had to step away from the screen to compose myself after reading your post. And I still have goosebumps and tears as I write this. Fark, hon, you gotta warn us when you hit us with such an emotional postie. For Lochie - dear god that sweet face. For the lack of communication from the recipients' families. An oversight, of course, but still so lacking in compassion. For you, Clairey, for writing this post in the first place.

    Very moving. Off to read Lochie's family's response now... x

  14. I wish it got easier but it doesn't does it. We lost my niece Isabelle at Easter 4 years ago - she was 3 years and 9 months - and I think of her and miss her every day.

    What your sister and her family did was a wonderful thing and their beautiful Lochie lives on in others.

    After reading your post I made sure to remind my family that I would like to be an organ donor when the time comes (hopefully many years from now).

  15. Like Loz said, maybe it is out of guilt or possibly embarrassment the recipients have stopped writing. I'm sure they're forever grateful in their own way, albeit silent. What's frustrating about the donor program is that no matter if I've ticked all the boxes & said Yes, donate me please, my next of kin can still say no. It's very important then that we have this discussion with our family that it's ok to be an organ donor and please respect my wishes.

  16. So sad. I agree with littlemissairgap - there is no doubt that those people are forever grateful, but perhaps the guilt is there. As well as, possibly. wanting to forget whatever their own little person went through? What I love is that every time you write about Lochie, you make sure he is remembered and that the decision his parents took is given the respect it deserves.

  17. Only after taken making a cup of tea, taking a few deep breaths & scooping my boy up into my arms to remind myself how extremely lucky I am - am I able to comment. Who knows why they would stop writing, I can't imagine why they wouldn't want to have contact with the family that gave them the biggest gift ever? I certainly would want to. Maybe this Christmas will be different.

  18. Wow I'm sat here with tears in my eyes I really don't know what to comment........ except that I'll be wishing for a letter or card for your family ((X))

  19. It is pretty common that where there is grief people remain silent. Not because it's too hard or because they don't care. They just don't know what to say to make it right (or at least not make things worse). Hopefully, some of these people, or others in the same situation, will see this post and will know that the right thing to do is to keep the cards coming.

  20. I really just can't say anything. My heart breaks for the family. I wonder if I would keep writing if it were my child in benefit of the organ? You have certianly changed my vew...

  21. I've only just stumbled across your blog and somehow in particular this post. It breaks my heart beyond words, and with a son creeping closer to that age I am almost suffocating at the thought of such pain.

    Your family has done a beautiful thing in donating organs; it means your Lochie lives on.

    Beautiful writing, a heartfelt tribute x

  22. Claire I am so very sorry for your family's loss. My husband received a heart transplant 9 years ago. We have regular contact with our donor family and we have had the amazing privilege of having met "our" donor family. We first contacted our family at the one year anniversary, we desperately hoped that we wouldn't open wounds or cause them more hurt, but for us saying thank you was so very important. It was such a bittersweet thing for us to be receiving a second chance at life but at the same time knowing that another family was suffering unfathomable grief at their loss.

    When we met our family for the first time they told us that we were the ONLY family who had said thank you. I can't imagine not saying thank you. We think of our donor every single day, we have a photo of him amongst our family photos on display in our living room. He is THAT important to us. His gift changed our life and we will be forever grateful for the gift he and his family gave when they chose to look past their own pain and chose to help others.

    Thank you for commenting on my blog. Hugs to you and your family.

  23. What a brave and generous thing your family did and what a beautiful post.

    I just hope everyone has "that" talk with their families.

  24. I've read this post before and every time I do, I cry.

    I hope someday, someone reads this and remembers to say thank you. x

  25. Heartfelt hugs xx
    A lovely reminder to not let life get in the way of showing thanks.

  26. Oh wow, Claire. What a beautiful and sad post. Tears. My girl is exactly that age - 3 years and 8 months - so unthinkable to imagine losing our little ones. Love and prayers for Lochie's family. x

  27. Such a sad, tragic loss. Thinking of you all.xoxoxoxoxo

  28. Claire - such a beautifully written piece. What courage a family has in making such a monumental decision to save the lives of others. I hope that I (or my family) is never in the position of needing another person's organs in order to survive but if I ever am, I can guarantee that the gratitude I would show would be lifelong and boundless. Thanks for the reminder of how important it is.x

  29. Lochie was a gorgeous little man Claire. I'm so sorry for your loss and have so much respect for his parents making such a tough decision at an impossibly difficult moment.
    Sometimes I think people don't understand grief. They're frightened to bring up loss for fear that they're reminding you - that they'll make you cry. The bereaved among us know that our loved ones are never far from our thoughts. x


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