18 September 2023

Sheffield hero: Dad gives the gift of life to three people following fatal cardiac arrest

Sheffield dad, husband and retired NHS worker, Brian Stapleton, was 69 and in good health when he unexpectedly suffered a fatal cardiac arrest at home. Brian's decision to join the organ donation register prior to his tragic passing meant that he was able to give a life-saving gift to three people in need.

Proud daughter, Megan Healy, told of the night Brian went into cardiac arrest at home on 13th October 2022. She said:

“Dad had been suffering from chest pain the day before but had been doing some painting and thought it was because of that. He woke up that night thinking he had indigestion and took some Gaviscon, but mum later heard him making a strange noise and realised he was in cardiac arrest.”

Brian’s wife, Josie, performed CPR on him until the ambulance arrived and were able to start his heart again. He was then taken to Accident and Emergency at the Northern General Hospital where he suffered another cardiac arrest.
Brian had a blockage in an artery to his heart which required an Angioplasty and a stent to help prevent the artery from closing again. He was then admitted to the Intensive Care Unit where he was ventilated.

Megan, who has worked at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for the past 20 years, 16 years of those as a Tissue Viability Nurse Specialist said:

“The team on the ITU were amazing and were so good at communicating what was happening with us, but, as a nurse, I knew from the start what the prognosis would be.”

Megan and Josie received the devastating news that due to the length of time that Brian’s heart had stopped, he had suffered a hypoxic brain injury and would sadly no longer be compatible with life.
“The team had started discussing organ donation with us and, given that Dad had been registered as a donor since its inception and both he and Mum held donor cards, we knew that his preference would be to donate.”

“The consultant and organ donation nurse guided us through the process and took a medical history from Mum about my dad. They then sent out to see if he had any potential matches, which fortunately he did.”

Megan commended the care they received from the hospital and organ donation team throughout the heartbreaking time.

“They were so good and supportive to all our whole family. Mum and I were by Dad’s side when he passed away and they made sure to play his favourite music whilst he was in theatre. I have twins who were only two years old at the time, so they gave us some booklets for them to read to help explain to them about death and gave them teddies to comfort them. They also had handprints taken from my dad for us to keep.”

Brian donated both of his kidneys, his liver, his corneas, and the valves from his heart and heroically saved the lives of three different people.

“Dad dedicated 40 years of his life to the NHS prior to his retirement, he was a brilliant grandad to my children and a keen football supporter. It’s comforting to see the incredible impact my dad’s decision to join the register has had on so many people and their families. I would encourage anyone to consider signing up to the organ donation register if they can.”

To register your decision to donate please visit https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-your-decision/. It only takes 2 minutes but could save up to 9 lives.


Photo: Hero Brian Stapleton and his grand daughter

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