Steve's story

Denise Carter sadly passed away in March 2009. Here her husband tells of his experience and why he is encouraging others to speak up and discuss their decision early with their loved ones.

“We were already blessed with three lovely boys, Cameron (seven), Ethan (five) and Aaron (18 months). However, we had always dreamed of having a little girl. Our wish was answered when Denise fell pregnant for a fourth time.

“Heartbreakingly, during the final stages of labour, Denise suffered a massive brain haemorrhage. That day my life changed forever. What started out as a joyous occasion turned into a complete tragedy. The cruel twist was that Denise would never get to hold the beautiful daughter that she had always wanted.

“The doctors explained to me that the haemorrhage could have happened at any time and that everything in their power was done to try to save her. She was transferred to Antrim Hospital where she was kept on a life support machine until the doctors pronounced her brain dead.

“Hugely emotionally, I had the devastating task of telling our three young boys. I tried to explain to them that they had a new baby sister to look after, while in the same breath that their mummy wasn’t coming home because she was now in heaven. We cried together for what seemed like an eternity.

“I returned to the hospital to say my final farewells to Denise and whisper in her ear that I would always love her and promised to take care of our babies.

Denise Carter

From our research we know that 78% of respondents said that they should discuss their organ donation decision with their loved ones, yet only 38% said that they have done this.

“At the hospital I was approached by the organ donation specialist nurse. She asked if Denise was on the organ donor register or if we had ever discussed it?  As we were both in our 30s and lived a healthy lifestyle, this topic was never raised. A topic, I wished we had.

“I was fortunate to have the tremendous support of Denise’s family with me at the time to help make a decision. Knowing that Denise was such a kind and loving person in life, she’d do all in her power to help anyone. I also wanted the children to remember their mum for both the wonderful things that she had done in life and in her passing. Considering all this, I agreed to donation."

Changing five lives

“A couple of weeks after Denise’s passing, I received a letter from the organ donation team informing me that five different lives had been saved from Denise’s organ donation. A year on, I received another letter telling me that all five recipients were now living normal and healthy lives.

“It is very comforting to know that five strangers are now sharing their lives with their loved ones.  Words cannot describe how proud I am of Denise, and the children are of their mum."

Steve Carter and Family

The importance of having a conversation about organ donation

“It’s almost five years since we lost Denise. We’ve had our ups and downs but we have found some comfort in the organ donation decision. As a result, I joined the Organ Donation Committee for Northern Ireland and I’m involved heavily with raising money and awareness for organ donation.

“My experience that night has helped make some important decisions. With organ donation you can save or transform up to nine lives. My goal is to raise awareness of organ donation and to encourage families to talk about organ donation. I want them to understand that a simple conversation about organ donation with their loved one can make a heart-wrenching decision a bit easier and to ensure that individuals who have registered have their organ donation wish granted.”