THE loss of a devoted mother, who died after a liver transplant could not be carried out in time, has sparked an emotional plea for more people to become organ donors.
Joanne Carr, 41, from Jarrow, had everything to live for – two sons who idolised her, a husband who adored her and the offer of a job in nursing, a career she had set her heart on.
But in July, Mrs Carr, of Cedar Drive, Jarrow, was struck down with non-specific hepatitis of the liver, which eventually claimed her life on August 14.
Mrs Carr, mother to Keelan, 17, and Ben, nine, had been receiving treatment at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where she had been since returning from a family holiday.
Davy, her husband of nine years, Davy, said: “When Joanne’s health deteriorated we were told she needed a liver transplant or she would die. She had been placed at the top of the transplant list.
“I can remember coming home thinking ‘she’s going to get one’, but a donor organ never became available.
“If a liver had been available, she would still be here now watching her sons grow up. Ben’s last memory of his mother would not be getting a kiss from his mam as she lay in a hospital bed. She would still be here.
“This is why we are encouraging as many people as possible to sign up to the organ donation register. It takes seconds to do on the internet and it could save someone’s life one day.”
Mrs Carr had been feeling unwell ahead of a family holiday to Turkey.
During the break, she continued to feel ill and, when the family landed back at Newcastle Airport on July 18, Davy took Joanne to South Tyneside District Hospital.
At first doctors believed she was suffering from gall stones, but tests showed this was not the case and she was transferred to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where she underwent further investigations.
Mr Carr says specialists there were unsure what the problem was, and were left no option but to wait and see if she would recover by herself.
As time went by, her health deteriorated and, just under four weeks after first being admitted to hospital, she was taken into intensive care.
It was then her family were told to prepare for the worst, and it was vital that a donor liver was found for a transplant.
She was placed at the top of the transplant list, and she and her family waited anxiously for a suitable organ to become available.
That call never came, and a decision was taken to turn off Mrs Carr’s life-support machine.
Davy, 40, said: “They told me they needed a donor as soon as possible – within the next 24 hours. Even then it didn’t sink in, even when they said it would be a good idea to contact family and friends.
“I went outside. I had been out all of an hour when they called me back in and said they were sorry. Joanne had suffered an aneurism and they needed a liver within hours.
“We didn’t get one and we took the decision to turn off her life-support machine after being told her brain had been damaged by the aneurism. All her family was given the chance to say goodbye, then I was left on my own with her.
“Keelan came in and we just sat holding her hand as she passed away. Joanne had always been on the organ donor register, something she reminded me of even when she was in hospital. Even when she was so ill, she was thinking of how she could help others.
“But because doctors feared her organs could be infected she wasn’t able to donate hers.
“I did allow them to keep her liver so they could do tests and research on it.
“Joanne never got to become an organ donor. But if her story encourages others to sign up then, in her own way, she is helping to save lives.”
A service was held at South Tyneside Crematorium, where £1,300 was raised in her memory for St Clare’s Hospice.
To sign up to the organ donation register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk
Call the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 or text SAVE to 62323