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Girl, 13, saves eight lives as UK's highest ever organ donor

Eight of Jemima Layzell's organs have been given to others, including five children. Photo: Layzell Family

A girl from Horton, Somerset, who died from a brain aneurysm in 2012, has saved the lives of eight people through organ donations.

Jemima Layzell was only 13 when she collapsed while preparing for her mother's 38th birthday party.

She died four days later in March 2012 at Bristol Children's Hospital.

NHS Blood and Transplant staff now say Jemima is the only recorded donor in the UK to have had solid organs transplanted into eight different people. A typical donation usually results in 2.6 transplants.

Included in those eight are five children who received an organ from Jemima.

Her heart, small bowel, pancreas, both kidneys, both lungs, and liver - which was split and given to two people - were all donated.

Jemima collapsed while preparing for her mother's birthday party in 2012. Credit: Layzell Family

Jemima's mother, Sophy Layzell, 43, says they had a conversation about becoming a donor just weeks before her unexpected death.

She says the conversation was prompted by the death of someone they knew in a crash.

They were on the register but their organs couldn't be donated because of the circumstances of their death.

Jemima had never heard of organ donation before and found it a little bit unsettling but totally understood the importance of it."

– Sophy Layzell, Jemima's Mother

Mrs Layzell has since created the Jemima Layzell Trust, which raises funds to help young people with brain injuries.

Jemima (right) with her younger sister, Amelia. Credit: Layzell Family

We found the decision to donate Jemima's organs hard but we both felt it was right and we knew she was in favour of donation.

We had no idea Jemima was the only person whose organs were transplanted into eight different people until NHS Blood and Transplant told us.

Everyone wants their child to be special and unique and this among other things makes us very proud."

– Sophy Layzell, Jemima's Mother
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people are currently on the transplant waiting list including 176 children.

Jemima's father, Harvey Layzell, 49, said the family had initially felt unsure about donating her heart, until watching a programme about children awaiting heart transplants.

We feel it's very important for families to talk about organ donation. Every parent's instinct is to say no, as we are programmed to protect our child. It's only with prior knowledge of Jemima's agreement that we were able to say yes.

Jemima was lovely - clever, funny, compassionate and creative - and we feel sure she would be very proud of her legacy."

– Sophy Layzell, Jemima's Mother
Anyone can sign up to become a donor online. Credit: NHS Blood and Transplant

456 people died waiting for a transplant last year, including 14 children, according to NHS Blood and Transplant.

There are currently 6,414 people on the transplant waiting list, including 176 children.

Every donor is special and Jemima's unique story shows the extraordinary difference a few words can make.

Hundreds of people are still dying unnecessarily waiting for a transplant because too many families say no to organ donation.

Please tell your family you want to donate, and if you are unsure, ask yourself: if you needed a transplant would you accept one? If so, shouldn't you be prepared to donate?"

– Anthony Clarkson, NHS Blood and Transplant