'Proud’ Hornchurch mum accepts lifesaving donor son's posthumous university award
- Credit: Lisa Wilson
A Hornchurch woman whose late son saved numerous lives through organ and tissue donations collected his posthumous award for services to the community.
Last week, Lisa Wilson, 58, attended Nottingham Trent University to collect her son Tom's outstanding alumni student award.
Tom's donated organs and tissues have helped to save 50 patients including an eight-year-old who received part of Tom's liver.
After the 22-year-old's 2015 death in a freak hockey accident, his parents Lisa and Graham agreed for his organs and tissues to be donated, a decision Lisa said was made "much easier" knowing he had already signed up to have them donated at his university fresher's fair.
Speaking of Tom's opting-in for organ donation, Lisa said: "You hope it will never happen to you, but he made that decision and this is what it led to."
There is now the Max and Keira's law in place, which means everyone is by default on the donor list and must opt-out to be off it.
Lisa, who lost her husband Graham from a brain tumour and sepsis, two months after Tom died, is now a passionate campaigner for organ donation and used the speech at the university award ceremony to discuss the importance of talking about organ and tissue donation.
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On receiving the posthumous award, Lisa said: “I spoke to over 1,200 people, it was huge, and full of students and parents.
“I talked about Tom and his outstanding award and asked them to share their wishes briefly in the car journey back home, as it is rarely spoken about.”
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Determined to make others aware of the importance of sharing wishes with loved ones, Lisa asked the parents and children in attendance to think about if they would want their organs and tissues donated, and to let each other know.
Lisa said it is important for the next of kin to know the decision made, as if anyone is ever in intensive care they will be asked and could say no to organ and tissue donation even if the person is opted-in on the register.
She added: "It is so traumatic for people at the time if they don't know, but if it's been discussed beforehand they would know - this is why it is so important to share your wishes with your next of kin".
Speaking of Tom’s legacy and receiving the award, Lisa said: “Pippa (Tom’s sister) and I are incredibly proud and Tom would be also.
“We’re proud Tom has been able to give people a second chance of life.
“The gift of life is the most precious thing of all.”
This comes as Lisa prepares to continue spreading awareness of organ and tissue donation ahead of Organ Donation Week (September 20-26).
As a constant representation of organ donation, Tom's baton, donated by the Tom Wilson Memorial Fund, is now displayed in the foyer of his former school, Coopers’ Company and Coborn School.
Lisa explained the design of the baton was influenced by a relay race - passing the baton from one person to another - and the connection that he and his dad Graham, who died two months after Tom, had to the sport.
There are now three batons, one called Tom’s Legacy Battle which travels around the world for the World Transplant Games, one which travels the UK for the Westfield Health British Transplant Games and the most recent one being commissioned for Coopers’.
The 58-year-old said she is “tremendously proud” the school agreed to display the baton.
She added: “I feel so honoured and Tom would feel so honoured.”
In celebration of Organ Donation Week, Queen’s Hospital in Romford will have an education stand outside it on September 21.
On September 24 the stand will be moved to the Liberty Shopping Centre and people are invited to ask questions about organ and tissue donation.