A primary school teacher has told how she was certain her husband wanted to donate his organs to save other people’s lives after he suffered a fatal brain injury.
Father-of-three Kirk Jensen, 45, suffered major brain trauma when he fell backwards and hit his head after working outside in his garden.
His wife Leanne agreed without hesitation to donate his organs in April last year when doctors at Hull Royal Infirmary told her all hope had gone.
Now, one year on from Kirk’s death, Leanne is supporting the organ donation team at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s “Leave Them Certain” campaign to encourage people to share their wishes with their families.
Leanne, 41, said: “Kirk and I had talked about organ donation before, lots of times.
“Our attitude was that we would have taken organs from someone else if we’d ever found ourselves or our children in that situation so we had to be prepared to give.”
Despite the agony of their loss, Leanne said Kirk’s selfless act brought comfort to her and their three children Keira, 19, Amelia, 15, and seven year-old son Bronnum.
She said: “He was such a special person who always helped others and we are so proud that after his passing he has continued to do what he loved and given the most wonderful gift.
“There will always be a massive hole in our hearts but we will always have this positive thing he did.
“Kirk always was, and still is, our hero.”
England’s law around organ donation changed on May 20 last year to an “opt out system” to save and improve more lives. Under the new legislation known as Max and Kiera’s Law, all adults agree to become organ donors when they die unless they make it known during their life that they don’t wish to donate.
Since April last year and almost one year on from the introduction of the new legislation, 13 families have agreed to organ donation after the death of someone they cherished at Hull Royal Infirmary or Castle Hill Hospital.
Leanne, who lives with her family in Lincolnshire, was one of those who agreed to uphold her husband Kirk’s final wishes shortly after he landed his dream job as a groundsman at Caistor Lakes.
She said: “Kirk was always building things in the garden and he’d come in to talk to me about something he’d been doing.
“We went outside so he could show me but when he stepped outside and went to close the door, I think he must have got dizzy from standing up and he just fell backwards.
“It knocked him out for a few seconds and when he came round, he was complaining about how sore his head was and he started throwing up.”
Kirk was rushed to Hull Royal’s Emergency Department by ambulance and he underwent surgery to reduce the swelling and stop the bleeding on his brain.
He was kept in an induced coma and then had more surgery to remove more fluid from his brain.
He was stable for two days but Kirk’s condition deteriorated rapidly and Leanne was told there nothing more could be done to save him.
Although devastated, she knew Kirk wanted his organs to be donated and agreed immediately when she was asked by Specialist Nurses in Organ Donation.
Kirk’s kidneys, liver, heart values and tissue and his corneas were used for transplantation and the family received a letter from a woman whose life was saved.
Leanne said: “I’d advise people to talk to each other about this and if your partner doesn’t want to talk about it, tell your other family members.
“Even through all this and the darkest of days, we get these moments that shine.
“They have helped us through the “firsts” like Christmas because, even though Kirk wasn’t with us, we knew other people were with their families because of what he did.”
Fay Turner, one of the trust’s Specialist Nurses in Organ Donation, said: “We are so grateful to Leanne and the other families who agree to save lives through organ donation.
“This year, we’re asking everyone to make sure your loved ones know what you want to do in the event of your death. It’s important that you ‘Leave Them Certain’ at the worst time in their lives so you can remove that burden from them.
“Please talk to your loved ones today to make sure they are aware of your wishes.”