“HER donation will give someone their sight back. Organ donation is one of the only ways we can actively contribute to society after we pass away.”
Those are the words of grieving Luke Yates as he paid a moving tribute to his courageous wife Sam, whose corneas were donated after she lost her battle with cystic fibrosis.
Sam’s gift was a final act of selflessness by a young woman who has been an inspiration and lived life to the full despite her debilitating illness. Time ran out for Sam, who needed a double lung transplant, when she died on April 4, but the 28-year-old has changed someone’s life by giving a stranger the gift of sight. Sam spent her final months trying desperately to encourage more people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Paying tribute to his wife, Luke said he hopes her message will live on. The 26-year-old, from Preston Candover, said: “She has very much left a legacy.”
Sam, who was a teacher at Kempshott Junior School, in Basing-stoke, received 40,000 hits on a blog she kept during her time at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, where she had been cared for since January, and where she passed away.
As previously reported in The Gazette, Sam also took part in February’s ITV campaign From the Heart, giving up precious time to campaign for more people to sign up to the register so others would not face the agonising wait she endured.
Luke said: “She accepted that if she was willing to be an organ recipient, she was willing to be a donor.
“She’s the donor now. We are happy that was able to happen. Her donation will give someone their sight back. Organ donation is one of the only ways we can actively contribute to society after we pass away.”
Sam and Luke met when they were teenagers and had been together for 11 years, marrying in July 2007. Paying tribute to Sam, Luke added: “She was full of life and lived life to the absolute full. She knew her time was perhaps limited so she took every opportunity to enrich her life as much as possible.
“She was always smiling, despite her circumstances. She never let it depress her. She was special.
“In the end, her lungs gave up. Her fighting spirit didn’t give up but her body did. I was there the whole time and she knew I was there.”
Although Luke said: “Sam is now in a much better place instead of suffering as she was”, he knows that a double lung transplant could have extended her life.
He said: “There was nothing else wrong with her. If she could just have had new lungs, she would have had a great life. She would have been able to do things she had not been able to do for some time.”
Sam, who also leaves behind her parents Ros and Alan Cole, and younger brother Ian, received three calls about a possible transplant during the three years she was waiting for lungs, but each time was let down at the last minute because the match was not suitable.
Luke said: “It all boils down to a massive shortage of organs. The stats are something like three people a day die waiting for a transplant. Unfortunately, Sam was one of those three.”
*To sign the NHS Organ Donor Register visit https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/
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