Organ Donation Week 5-11 September 2016

06/09/2016

To mark the start of Organ Donation Week today, we would like to share the Kennedy family’s story about their experiences in donating their son Jordan’s organs after he passed away at the age of 22. We would like to thank Jordan’s family for being so open and sharing their story.

The Kennedy Family: Jordan’s Story

 

Jordan was born on 6 July 1992; the second of our two boys Jared (his older brother) was born three years earlier and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was three. Jordan took the role of ‘big’ brother from a very early age. He became Jared’s friend, protector and carer. When Jordan was a young teenager, his mum Dawn, became progressively ill and needed help with her mobility. Again, Jordan stepped up and was always there to help her when she was unsteady or needed a helping hand. A caring and very strong young man, who was the most helpful and wonderful son and brother.

Jordan was born on 6 July 1992; the second of our two boys Jared (his older brother) was born three years earlier and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was three. Jordan took the role of ‘big’ brother from a very early age. He became Jared’s friend, protector and carer. When Jordan was a young teenager, his mum Dawn, became progressively ill and needed help with her mobility. Again, Jordan stepped up and was always there to help her when she was unsteady or needed a helping hand. A caring and very strong young man, who was the most helpful and wonderful son and brother.

When Jordan was 13 years of age, I noticed that on a couple of occasions he seemed to be in a daze for a couple of seconds. This was soon diagnosed as very mild epilepsy (Absence Epilepsy). As he became older, bigger and stronger we hoped he would grow out of these episodes. Unfortunately, he didn’t and when they became more serious, he was diagnosed with having a very small benign brain tumour called a Hypothalamic Hamartoma. As this was benign, we were told not to worry and so Jordan enjoyed school life to the full playing ‘Tight Head Prop’ for the school rugby team and progressing to playing for the First XV at Grosvenor Grammar. During this time he started part-time work at Temple Golf Club and became a friend to the members, guests and staff who all loved his personality, his friendship and his fun sense of humour.

Jordan progressed to University studying at Ulster University and made some wonderful friends on Campus becoming the leader of the group. He graduated with a BSc in Advertising with Computing in July 2014. His mum, Jared and I were the proudest family ever…..…..

Anxious to start life as an independent young man, he got the first job he applied for and started work in Belfast in August 2014. That same month he moved into rented accommodation in Belfast and all of his life was ahead of him…..

Unfortunately, two months later, on a Sunday morning in October (12 October 2014 to be precise), I received a telephone call to say that Jordan was having a major epileptic seizure and didn’t seem to be coming around from it. I rushed to Dundonald where paramedics had already arrived and were attempting to administer medication. Whilst I was in the room with him and the paramedics, his heart stopped…………..

The paramedics were fantastic and managed to restart his heart but unfortunately, he never regained consciousness. The lack of oxygen to his brain before his heart restarted had caused irreparable brain damage. On Thursday 17 October, his mum Dawn, his brother Jared and I were faced with a terrible decision. Do we continue to allow medical intervention to keep him alive or do we let nature take its course? An awful, awful dilemma but one that we reflected on deeply as a family but with Jordan at the centre of our thoughts.
“What Would Jordan Want?” We continually asked ourselves and amid much deliberation, soul searching and tears we, as a family, made the decision to let Jordan ‘pass on’.

We then asked ourselves what would Jordan want regarding Organ Donation. We strongly believed his wishes would have been to donate his organs to help others to live. For the rest of that day we made the arrangements for donation and were helped along the way with a wonderful team of people from the Organ Donation Team at the Ulster Hospital.

Heather Savage, Nurse Specialist (Organ Donation) came into the room and told us that when she checked the Organ Donation Register, Jordan had registered himself as a donor ‘on-line’ when he was 15 years of age! As a family we were hurting so much that Jordan was dying but our hearts were lifted to discover that we were honouring his wishes.

Jordan died in our arms on 18 October 2014, he was 22.

His unselfish and generous gesture of donating his organs saved and transformed the lives of three people. This knowledge helped us to cope with such a tragic loss. Jordan’s death helped others to live.

I urge everyone to register as an Organ Donor…….Jordan did!