Family of NHS Consultant Gave and Received Organs to Save Lives

A consultant with NHS Forth Valley whose family have both donated and received organs for transplant, is appealing to local people across Forth Valley to join the organ donor register.

Dr Helen Tyler, who works in intensive care at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, says the death of her cousin helped save the life of another 19 year old. Meanwhile her father in-law benefitted from two kidney transplants.

She said: “I think the most important thing is that people talk about organ donation and discuss their wishes and beliefs with family members. It’s a great opportunity to do something positive at what’s a terrible time for those left behind.”

Helen’s cousin Caroline was in her first year at medical school when Helen was in her final year at the same university. Sadly Caroline stepped out on to the street and was hit by a lorry. She never regained consciousness and suffered brainstem death. Her heart was donated to a student the same age, and both her kidneys and liver were also donated for transplant.

Dr Tyler explained: “It was in line with her wishes and gave her family the knowledge they had done one last thing for her. She had been training to be a doctor and always wanted to help someone and through donating her organs they believed she had achieved that. It gave them some sort of hope that they could take from a really devastating event.”

The kidney transplants received by Dr Tyler’s father in law helped extend his life. The first gave him ten years free from dialysis and allowed him to return to work and spend time with his family. When he received his second transplant he was very ill and his recovery process was different but every month it gave him precious extra time.

“I think we are very bad at discussing death” explained Helen. “It’s amazing that some patients haven’t talked about resuscitation or donation when they are seriously ill. People generally are very superstitious – they think if they talk about death it will happen.”

NHS Forth Valley organ donation lead, Dr Mark Worsley, says Helen’s experiences show how vital it is for people to chat about organ donation.

“Although ‘Forth Valley residents on the Organ Donation Register have risen to 37.5% of the population, this is still lower than the national average of 40%.

“Age is no barrier to becoming an organ or tissue donor, nor are most medical conditions. People in their 70s and 80s have become organ donors and saved many lives whilst the oldest recorded cornea donor was 104 years old.”

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit