Comfort in knowing Tesh's organs helped change lives
This is what Tesh wanted and she will be smiling down on each individual she has helped.
Letitia (Tesh) Gallagher's parents Mark and Lisa tell their story:
In 2012 we lost our beautiful daughter to meningitis. She was 18 years old. This was a devastating time, as you can imagine.
Tesh had a cough she couldn't shake and a sore throat. We insisted she go to the doctor. The doctor examined her and there were no obvious signs of meningitis. They gave her some Difflam spray and an anti-inflammatory. At 4am the morning after the doctor's appointment we received a phone call from Tesh's flatmate saying Tesh was in hospital. We rushed in to be with Tesh and her boyfriend Kaye. Kaye said that Tesh had woken with a terrible headache and was vomiting so he called an ambulance. The doctor said they were testing for suspected meningitis.
After a CT scan, the doctor said that there were still no obvious signs of meningitis, but wanted to do more tests. He encouraged us to take a break until the consultant arrived. While we didn't want to leave Tesh, we needed some fresh air. We knew she was comfortable, resting and in good hands in the ICU.
We were in the hospital car park when Kaye texted us and said to come back. Back in the hospital the doctor took us to a side room and said that Tesh did have meningitis after all and the disease had taken over her body so rapidly that barely any symptoms were detectable. He also said that the meningitis had caused fatal brain damage.
It was only a few hours from the time our daughter arrived at hospital until we were told there she was brain dead and there was nothing they could do to save our girl. It all happened so fast. The doctors then apologised and said they needed to ask us a question. They then asked us if we would consider donating our daughter's organs. We didn't hesitate at all. Our daughter Tesh was a very giving person and was always willing to help others.
About three weeks before she passed away she actually had a conversation with us over our Sunday night dinner. We discussed organ donation as she was about to go for her full drivers license. She said "If anything was to happen to me....please make sure that my organs are donated to help others." This was her final wish and we were happy to grant it for her!
The team from Organ Donation New Zealand (ODNZ) was coming from Auckland to retrieve Tesh's organs but unfortunately Auckland airport was fog bound. We had to keep Tesh on the ventilator to preserve as many of her organs as possible. It wasn't until the next day, before the retrieval team arrived, that they advised us that due to the length of time that she had been on the ventilator that her pancreas and lungs could not be retrieved. They could however retrieve her eyes, heart, kidneys and liver.
This operation was going to take five hours, so we decided to go away and get freshened up. After two hours, we received a phone call from the donor co-ordinator to tell us that unfortunately Tesh's heart was not viable due to the length of time on the ventilator. This just told us that her heart belonged to us. This was going to shorten her operation so we rushed back to the hospital.
When we got there, the ICU Charge Nurse was waiting for us. She again apologised, but had another question for us. The retrieval team had looked at Tesh's heart valves and they were able to be retrieved. Did we want this to happen? "Yes" was our answer! We knew the importance of those valves, so we signed the consent form.
As devastating as it is not to have her with us anymore, it is comforting to know that all her organs have now been transplanted and she has helped ten people change their lives. Within those ten people, there are also hundreds more who are able to carry on with their loved ones who have been given the gift of time.
This is what Tesh would have wanted and she would be smiling down on each individual she has helped.
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