Schoolgirl, 13, who died from brain aneurysm, helps eight people through organ donation

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A 13-year-old girl who died suddenly of a brain aneurysm helped eight different people through organ donation – the highest number on record.

Jemima Layzell died in March 2012, four days after she collapsed at her home in Somerset as her family prepared a birthday party for her mother.

Her parents gave permission to put her on the donor register and she subsequently became the only recorded person in the UK whose solid organs have been transplanted into eight different people.

Jemima’s heart, small bowel, pancreas, both kidneys, both lungs, and her liver – which was split in two – were all donated. The eight different recipients included five children.

After a family friend was killed in a car crash a couple of weeks before her death, Jemima had a conversation with her parents about organ donation and told them she was in favour of it.

Donor: Jemima Layzell (right) with her sister Amelia (PA)

Her mother, Sophy Layzell, 43, a drama tutor, said: “We found the decision to donate Jemima’s organs hard but we both felt it was right and we knew she was in favour of donation.

“Everyone wants their child to be special and unique and this among other things makes us very proud.”

She added that Jemima’s father, Harvey Layzell, 49, the managing director of a building firm, had initially felt unsure about donating her heart but that they knew they had made the right decision after seeing a a programme about children awaiting heart transplants shortly after their daughter’s death. 

“It affirmed for us that saying ‘no’ would have been denying eight other people the chance for life,” she said. “Every parent’s instinct is to say no, as we are programmed to protect our child. It’s only with prior knowledge of Jemima’s agreement that we were able to say yes.”

NHS assistant director of organ donation Anthony Clarkson said: “Every donor is special and Jemima’s unique story shows the extraordinary difference a few words can make.

“Hundreds of people are still dying unnecessarily waiting for a transplant because too many families say no to organ donation. Please tell your family you want to donate, and if you are unsure, ask yourself: if you needed a transplant would you accept one? If so, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”

According to NHS Blood and Transplant, 457 people died waiting for a transplant last year, including 14 children. There are currently 6,414 people on the transplant waiting list, including 176 children.


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