Donor’s tragedy gives hope to nine families
ROBERT Hampshire is hoping he gets the call one day.
The Sydney psychiatrist would like to speak to the people whose sight was restored with his son James Teague’s striking blue eyes, whose lives were saved by his liver, and quality of life was improved with his pancreas, kidney and heart.
‘‘I’d love to meet them, and I think they’d like to thank me as well. I think they’d want to know whose eyes they had,’’ says Hampshire.
Rugby-loving Teague, 19, died after falling nearly 10m from a balcony during a skiing holiday to Queenstown with friends in 2014.
He was transferred from Lakes District Hospital to the intensive care unit at Dunedin Hospital and kept alive until his parents could reach his bedside.
‘‘They did a great job to keep him alive so we could say goodbye,’’ Hampshire said.
A chance conversation with his mother Caroline Teague before heading to Queenstown, in which Teague declared his keenness to be a donor, made it an easy decision for his parents.
‘‘We told the staff there we’d like to donate and within 10 minutes we were swarmed with people, a huge team swung into action with blood matching, testing, sampling, looking for potential matches.’’
A ‘harvest’ team of surgeons arrived in Dunedin from Auckland and, as they operated on Teague, an aircraft waited with its engines running to rush the organs to nine people across Australia and New Zealand.
His liver reportedly saved at least two lives, including that of a six-year-old boy. Teague’s pancreas and kidney were given to a 32-year-old woman, which freed her from dialysis and diabetes. His heart went to a 53-year-old man and his eyes gave sight to two young men.
Hampshire is speaking out to bring attention to the low donor rates across New Zealand and Australia. In 2016, there were 61 deceased organ donors, up from 53 in 2015 and 46 in 2014.
The families of organ donors are able to communicate anonymously with recipients through Organ Donation New Zealand, often exchanging cards on anniversaries and birthdays.
James Teague’s transplanted organs went to nine recipients.