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Organ Donation Week 2023: Great Western shares story of area’s oldest ever donor

This Organ Donation Week (18 September – 24 September), we are sharing Diana’s story of being a donor at 84 years old.

Last summer, Diana Episcopo was at home in Cirencester when she unexpectedly fell ill with what was later diagnosed as an unsurvivable brain bleed. Having gained a scholarship to the University of Cambridge at the age of 17, Diana had spent her life working as a doctor in the NHS. She was a proud member of the Organ Donor Register.

Although most people in the UK support organ donation, very few people die in circumstances that make it possible to donate their organs after death. Diana was one of these people, although her family were surprised to find out that at the age of 84 she would be able to donate.

To encourage others to consider becoming donors as part of Organ Donation Week, Diana’s daughter, Joanne Episcopo has been sharing her story in a special film.

In it, Joanne reflects on her surprise at being told her mum was eligible to donate her organs. However, it was possible and thanks to the work of specialists at the Great Western Hospital, Diana saved the lives of 3 people by donating her liver and kidneys.

Joanne says:

“We didn’t expect that my mum might be a viable organ donor, so when we discovered that actually she was and that she could be, we were quite proud of her. I very much feel that my mum spent her life caring for people, and she was doing that in her death. We were just amazed that at the age of 84 my mum could have organs that would help other people.”

Diana is the oldest donor that has been referred to the South Central Organ Donation Services Team. This is an area within which the Trust works that covers more than five million people across Wiltshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire and Buckinghamshire. Diana was one of seven patients who donated their organs at the Great Western Hospital in the last year, resulting in 19 patients receiving life-saving transplants.

The Trust’s Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation, Trudie Neveu, said:

“It is very important that people support organ donation by proactively registering their decision to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Register or speaking with their family. That’s what Diana did, helping us to deliver life-saving transplants. As always, the dedicated staff here at the Great Western Hospital will help families through every stage of the process during what is a very difficult time.”

Watch our film below:

Organ Donation Week runs between 18 and 24 September. During the week the NHS is aiming to encourage at least 25,000 people to register their decision for the first time, so we’re appealing to the public to take two minutes to help save up to nine lives in the future by confirming their decision and sharing it with their family. Only a very small amount of people die in a way where it is possible for them to be organ donors. So, the more people who register as donors, the better chance we have of organ donation being possible.

Register your decision here -

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