Families and NHS staff hold photos of loved ones on Snowdon's summit to mark Organ Donation Week

Natalie Owen (right) from Wrexham took a photo of her cousin Amy Jones, who passed away at 24-years-old and donated organs for up to three other women through the donation of her liver and kidneys. Credit: Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Donor families and NHS staff have taken part in an emotional trek up Mount Snowdon in memory of loved ones to mark Organ Donation Week.

Once at the summit, photos were held up of individuals who have passed away but helped transform the lives of others by gifting them an organ.

The walk was organised by nurses at Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board to raise awareness of organ donation and for those still waiting for a donor.

Organ Donation Week runs through Monday 20 to Sunday 26 September. In Wales, if you have not officially opted in or opted out, then it is considered that you have no objection to organ donation.

A number of medical staff and donor families joined the walk up Wales' highest mountain, which was organised by north Wales’ three Organ Donation Specialist Nurses.

One of the individuals held in a photo at the top was Joanne Williams, from Colwyn Bay. She was just 40-years-old when she passed away following a motorbike crash in 2015.

Her stepmother, Shirley Williams, said: “It was Easter Sunday in 2015 and it was a beautiful day. Joanne and her boyfriend came to see us and said they were going on a motorbike ride to Betws-y-Coed.

“We hadn’t heard anything from them by late in the afternoon but then received a call that we needed to go to Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor as there had been an accident.

“Sadly her boyfriend died at the scene but Joanne needed surgery. When we finally got to see Joanne she was on a life-support machine in the Intensive Care Unit.”

 The 40-year-old's injuries were so severe, she never regained consciousness.

At the hospital Shirley and Joanne's father, Alan, were approached by Specialist Organ Donation Nurse, Abi Roberts, who asked if they had considered organ donation. Shirley said it was a "very easy decision to make."

She said: “We are both firm believers in organ donation and we had previously discussed the subject with Joanne and we knew she was too."

Shirley described Joanne as “a very bubbly, clever and fun loving girl with an infectious laugh and would light up any room with her love for life.

“Although it was a huge tragedy for us we are glad that something good was able to come out of this and lives have been saved because of Joanne."

Since 2015 in Wales, it is deemed individuals consent to donating their organs if they have not registered an opt in or opt out decision. Credit: Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

She added: “It was wonderful to see a photo of Joanne held by one of the nurses at the top of Snowdon, a lovely tribute to all those who have provided the gift of life."

Specialist Nurse, Abi, who works at Ysbyty Gwynedd, thanked everyone who took part in the trek.

She said: “Despite the weather we made it to the summit and it was emotional to see family members of donors take that special moment to remember their loved ones.

“The main message we want to get across this week is how important it is to speak to your family members about organ donation.

“It’s really important that families know their loved ones’ wishes to give them the certainty to support their decision at such a difficult time.

“Organ donation is a very personal decision, it can never minimise the grief of a bereaved family but many families, such as Joanne’s, say it does provide them with some comfort knowing that their relative have helped to save and transform the lives of others.”

At the end of 2015, legislation was introduced in Wales that assumes consent to donating organs if you have not opted in or opted out. There are some groups of people excluded from this, like those under 18 and people visiting Wales.

When registering your donation decision with the NHS, you can specify which organs you would be happy to give or opt out of donating completely.

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