Declan’s organ donation legacy hoped to inspire others to Be A Hero

Kev Hodgson. Picture by James Hardisty.

Kev Hodgson. Picture by James Hardisty.

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A Yorkshire dad has spoken of his pride and sorrow at the loss of his 12-year-old son, who has gone on to save three lives as an organ donor.

Fun-loving Declan Hodgson was born with congenital heart disease and underwent a series of operations aimed to help him live a normal life, but he passed away after a massive bleed during an operation at Leeds General Infirmary in June 2013.

His father Kev, a civil servant who lives in Crofton, Wakefield, was devastated at the loss of his son but felt a duty not to deny others of his Declan’s organs and an opportunity of a transplant.

Declan’s kidney and pancreas saved a woman in her 40s, his other kidney helped a woman in her 20s and his liver saved a teenage boy.

Kev is supporting the YEP-backed Be A Hero organ donation campaign, run by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, and will urge people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register at Wakefield Trinity Walk today from 11pm to 4pm.

It comes after we revealed that just 29 Leeds families, and 114 in Yorkshire, donated organs last year as around 800 people wait for lifesaving transplants. Around three people nationally die every day waiting for a transplant.

Kev told the YEP: “He was our little hero and being a hero he saved three lives and he lives on in those people.

“We want to raise awareness so that more people sign the donor register. You never know when you might need an organ.”

Declan was born with a heart defect in 2001 and doctors warned he would need surgery to improve his condition. At six months he endured a successful nine-hour operation.

In 2008 an innocuous fall led him to contract septicaemia and heart infection endocarditis. As a result his heart had weakened and by 2010 he needed more surgery to help oxygenate his blood.

His parents Kev and Paula hoped a further, similar operation in 2013 would give him a new lease of life but a massive bleed during surgery starved his brain of oxygen. He passed away and his parents did not hesitate in donating his organs.

“It was devastating. Paula, being a nurse, knew things weren’t right, you could look into his eyes and could see he wasn’t there. A couple of hours later the consultants said they didn’t think there was anything they could do,” Kev said.

“We said yes to organ donation. Because of his condition we would have expected and quite happily taken a heart to give Declan but it would be selfish not to do the same for others. He would have agreed without a doubt.”

Declan’s legacy lives on. The woman who received his kidney and pancreas has sent letters thanking the family for their gift every year, while the Broken Hearts fund – broken-hearts.co.uk – set up in his memory has raised £12,000 for good causes.

Click here to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register through the Be A Hero campaign.

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