Olivia Glennie should have celebrated her 16th birthday last month (June 2014), she should have done her GCSEs and was expected to do very well and she should be planning her Prom night with all her friends.
But in tragic circumstances last year the 15-year-old from Newsome - known as Livvie by her family, tragically died leaving her family devastated.
In the aftermath her parents first attended at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and at the paediatric intensive care unit at Leeds General Infirmary where she was on a life support machine for five days and the time passed by in a blur. So when doctors asked them about whether they had considered organ donation they were shocked to be faced with something they never thought they would.
Her mum Diane, said: “We just thought if there was to be a shred of comfort at that time, to know that Livvie would be living on in someone else, and her DNA would be continuing in the world, then we wanted it to happen. It’s not an easy decision but it meant a lot to us at that time. We thought it gave Livvie a future which she no longer had
The couple went through the lengthy consent process supported throughout by the transplant specialist nurses who arranged for a treasured handprint of Olivia’s to be taken and framed.
Diane added: “They were beautiful human beings both inside and out. They were always thinking of us when they were at work and when they were at home with their own families. We knew we could change our minds at any time but they were with us every step of the way. They are just what any family going through it needs.”
Then 16 days later, on Diane’s birthday, a poignant letter arrived from the Transplant Team. On the outside of the envelope it says only to open when the family feels ready.
Inside, a letter told them three people had received Olivia’s organs – a mum in her 20s with a young child, a man in his 30s and a 13-year-old girl. Six months later and a follow-up letter told them the mum was doing “very well”, the man had been able to go on his first holiday in years and the 13-year-old girl had been making excellent progress. Another update will follow one year on.
Diane added: “When the letter arrived on my birthday it was as though Livvie was writing to me and that made it extra special. Some colleagues from school came to the house and Alex read it out to everyone. We were all in tears.”
Alex said: “It gives us comfort knowing that wherever we are we could potentially be walking past the `13-year-old girl who has received her liver and that means a lot to us. If that girl goes on to have children then we know Olivia will live on too. We do hope that in the future we may meet all the people Livvie helped.”
The couple, who have two daughters, Laura and Lucy, are now facing the future with the support of friends and family.
They have started fundraising and Diane will run the Jane Tomlinson 10K in Olivia’s memory.
This summer a VW show will be held in Olivia’s memory at the Post Office pub at Junction 38 on the M1 and all proceeds will go to Eckersley House where the family stayed while Olivia was being cared for in Leeds General Infirmary. School friends have also had special wristbands made in her memory to raise funds and more than 350 have been sold.
They are comforted by Olivia’s friends who continue to visit them at home in Blagden Lane and her room has been left at the right level of teenage untidiness!! They are proud their daughter’s name is on the memorial to organ donors in the entrance at HRI and have an Olivia rose in their garden.
Thoughts of the future are still very difficult but eased by the thought of Olivia’s legacy living on after they made that decision in the dark hours at Leeds GI.
Diane added: “I would say to anyone reading this and thinking about becoming a donor then sign up and tell your family you wish to do it. If they are then in the terrible position we were in, it can help with the decision….. slightly. It will never be an easy one, it will always be heart-breaking but, for us, it made us feel better knowing Olivia will live on.”