The mum of a boy whose organs were donated after he was killed by a careless driver has spoken of how a chance conversation led to a legacy that transformed lives.
Dan Robinson, 15, was originally from Glossop but had recently moved to Sheffield when he was hit by a driver on the A61 in Hillsborough.
Dan was rushed to Sheffield Children's Hospital where he later died of brain damage.
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Debbie said: "Everyone did a phenomenal job. Everyone was so gentle, the way we were cared for felt weightless, everything was so smooth, lovely and kind.
“When we were in the intensive care unit, the care we received was unobtrusive, but they were absolutely there if I needed a pair of arms, a cup of tea or a hug.
"They were looking after you because they know you’re not really ‘there’ and going through shock and disbelief, and they knew what I needed and when.
"In a time when everything was so jarring and unnatural, calmness is just what you need and they made it seem all okay and alright.”
When they were told nothing more could be done for Dan, his family began to think about organ donation.
Dan had previously had a light-hearted chat with Debbie where he expressed he would happily donate his organs if he died as he would not need them.
Debbie said: "It takes time for doctors to give up hope of survival, but as soon as they confirmed that there was nothing more they could do, I knew that I needed to talk about organ donation.
"I wanted Dan to have the chance to do one last amazing thing. And I knew he’d have been 100% behind that decision.”
Debbie and Dan's dad were talked through donating his organs by the Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation.
She explained their choices to them, telling them what would happen.
Debbie said: "The nurse was incredibly patient, knowing that there is a lot to take in a traumatic time.
"But for me, this was an exciting prospect; in the face of a horrific tragedy, something positive could occur.
"This would be Dan's legacy."
A few weeks later the family found out that Dan's heart had been given to a child under the age of 10.
Dan's liver, kidneys and pancreas were also donated which helped four families.
Debbie said: "I will always grieve Dan’s death, but equally always delight that I could enact his final wish and that he made a difference to others’ lives, even after his was over."
Paying tribute to her son, Debbie described Dan as: "Taller than average, with a daft laugh, great sense of humour, tons of energy and a maturity that belied his years.
"He also had a great sense of adventure and independence. The world was his to explore, and he loved it."
Paul Neale, 53, from Rotherham, was aged 50 when he received Dan’s kidney.
He had been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2015 and was due to start dialysis in 2018.
The day before dialysis started he got a call being told they had found him a kidney-Dan's.
He and Debbie connected through the NHS Blood and Transplant process for donor families and transplant recipients to make contact.
“It has totally changed my life. I’m much healthier now. I am just so grateful. I think the world of Dan, he’s our other son now," Paul said.
Paul’s wife Sharon said: “These horrible circumstances have made our family extended now. Not many people would think to talk about dying with their children, as no one thinks it will happen to them, it is amazing Debbie did.
"We are so grateful to Debbie and Dan for his donation, and keeping in touch with Debbie gives us chance to say thank you again.”
During Organ Donation Week (September 20-26), NHS Blood and Transplant and Sheffield Children's are calling on people to talk to their families about organ donation and leave them certain about their decision.
Debbie encourages everyone to have the conversation with their family, especially with their children: “Having had a conversation with Dan made things so much better when I needed to make the decision.
"Parents should have the light-hearted conversation with their children.
"It won’t matter if it doesn’t matter, but if it does matter it’s such a relief to know you’ve already got that information.”
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Clare Croxall, specialist nurse for organ donation, said: “As a team of specialist nurses in organ donation we know that no one expects to ever need to have the conversation about organ donation.
"Debbie and Dan did an amazing thing by discussing it, so Debbie knew Dan’s wishes.
“I really encourage everyone to have the conversation with their loved ones, at any age, so they are left certain if they ever need to make the decision for them.
The difference Dan’s organ donation has made on families has been incredible, we will never be able to thank Dan and his family enough.”
The driver who hit Dan had been travelling at 48mph in a 30mph zone, and was later sentenced to eight months in prison and a three year driving ban after admitting causing death by careless driving.
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