Tragic girl's family back donor drive

A FAMILY whose young daughter saved three lives after her death through organ donation has backed a new programme to teach pupils about transplants.

Rachel Warden was 11 when she died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage last June.

She had decided at the age of seven that she wanted to donate her organs after her grandfather received a life-saving kidney transplant, so her parents were in no doubt what to do after her death.

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The young girl's kidneys, pancreas and liver were transplanted, saving three lives.

Her parents, Sandra and Craig, and brother David were at Clydebank High School yesterday for the launch of an organ donation teaching pack, which will be used in lessons to help pupils make informed decisions about the issue.

The family, from Clydebank, said it was important to discuss the issues around transplants and said that ensuring Rachel's organs were donated had given them some comfort.

Mrs Warden, 45, a nursing assistant, said: "Her death was a total shock because she was fit and healthy.

"At the age of seven she made us promise that if anything should happen to her she wanted her organs donated. That was the kind of girl she was, she wanted to help others.

"It means something positive has come out of such a tragedy."

Mr Warden, 44, a police officer, said: "It does give comfort to know that she has helped other people live on and saved lives."

David, 14, is a pupil at Clydebank High, which Rachel would also have attended.

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The Wardens feature in a video that accompanies the teaching pack, as do two other families who gave or received organs.

It is aimed at S2-S6 pupils and provides teachers with lesson plans and resources covering the science behind transplants and organ donation.

One of the other families in the video is that of Aaron Gray, now 13, from Peebles, who received a small-bowel and liver transplant when he was three.

After heart surgery he had developed a post-operative infection which destroyed his bowel, and then he developed liver disease.

His mother Catriona, 45, spoke of her gratitude to the donor who transformed her son's life.

She said: "They are my heroes. It is such a selfless act.

"When we got the phone call to say the organs were available it was unbelievable.

"Before then we had never known a healthy child in all the three years. We spent most of our lives in hospital."

The pack is being distributed to all Scottish secondary schools.

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Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "No-one wants to think about their own death but it is important that young people throughout Scotland learn about the realities of organ donation.

"From the age of 12, they can decide for themselves whether they want to donate their organs in the event of their death.

"By raising awareness of donation and transplantation, dispelling the myths behind the medical science and discussing the ethics, we can ensure they are able to make an informed choice."