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Gillian & Peter's story

Gillian and Peter Stokes
Gillian, known to her family and friends as Gill, had been a teacher for most of her adult life. She and her husband of almost 40 years, Peter, lived in Buckinghamshire where they raised their two daughters, now aged 39 and 37. Towards the end of her career, Gill ran a secondary Pupil Referral Unit in Chesham before retiring in 2003 and moving with Peter to Weybread on the Norfolk/Suffolk borders.

During this period of retirement she was able to take the time to be a church warden and to enjoy her hobbies including needlework, quilting and painting.

As Christmas approached in December 2007, Gill, then aged 64, had everything to live for and felt really happy and fulfilled. Their elder daughter had just weeks before given birth to their first grandchild, and both Gill and Peter were enjoying retirement and looking forward to Christmas.

On 18th December, they had been for a Christmas lunch, and both were in fine form when they returned home to watch some TV and relax for the evening.

During that evening just a week before Christmas, Peter went to make a cup of tea and Gill went into the bathroom. She collapsed there, having suffered a massive brain haemorrhage. She was admitted to hospital, but the outlook for her was bleak. Gill was on a ventilator and it soon became clear that she was unlikely to recover.

Both Gill and Peter had previously discussed their wish to donate their organs with their two daughters, so the decision to donate Gill's organs had already been made. When the doctors made it clear that there was no brain activity and there was absolutely no chance that Gill would recover, Peter approached staff in the ICU, and the specialist nurse, to tell them that it was Gill’s wish to donate her organs, a wish that he and both their children supported.

Following her death, Gill donated her organs to at least four people, including a 40 year old man whose life was completely transformed by a kidney transplant and also a 13 year old child who received a life saving heart valve.

Peter, a retired company secretary and former magistrate, now aged 72, said:
"It is extremely comforting to know that not only does Gill’s spirit live on, but that she has saved or enhanced the lives of other people by donating her organs.

"I say to anyone not yet on the Organ Donor Register join up and be prepared to donate your organs once you die as they are no longer of use to you!

"Furthermore, once you have made the decision to register I would urge you to make your wishes known to your immediate family. This will help them to make the critical decision about donating your organs after your death.

"I was immensely relieved that my daughters and I were able to readily give the go-ahead when Gill’s life support machines had to be turned off, it really did help us to come to terms with our loss."

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