Talking about her experience, Jennifer explains why she is encouraging others to speak up and discuss their wishes early with their loved ones.
“Mum was a very energetic woman and had a love for gardening. She took great pleasure in passing on her knowledge of birds, butterflies and plants to her family.
“Mum always took great care of her appearance and this included going to the hairdresser every Saturday morning. She was also very sociable, enjoying family gatherings, holidays, and her weekly bingo catch-up with friends. I have very fond memories of learning to knit with mum, especially Aran knitting, making cardigans for all the family to wear.
“Throughout her life, her faith was very important to her and she prayed daily for her family’s good health.”
In July 2012, Barbara became ill after returning from a family holiday.
“Mum had difficulty breathing and was admitted to hospital with a chest infection. They suspected that she had pneumonia, so she was put on an antibiotic drip and we were told after a week of treatment she should be fine. But on the Wednesday morning mum went down for an X-ray and when returning to the ward she had a massive stroke. The hospital phoned me and told me to make my way to the hospital. I phoned the rest of the family and asked them to meet me there.
“Initially, I wasn't allowed to see mum. I was taken into a side room and offered tea. When the rest of the family arrived, we were informed that mum was being moved to high dependency to help with her breathing. Later mum was brought to theatre to regulate her breathing, and the doctor told us that she was critical. I thought to myself “no she isn't”, she just has a chest infection.
“Shortly after we were allowed to go and see mum, it was then we realised how ill she was and it became a nightmare from then on. The priest on duty gave mum the Last Rites and a blessing. I remember taking mum’s hand and begging her not to leave us and kissing her on the head. Sadly mum had another massive stroke and doctors suspected that she was brain stem dead. Shortly after that, we were asked to consider organ donation.”