Teenage organ donor Lizzie Ford’s amazing legacy – saving five lives

Lizzie Ford, who died at the age of 18 from an asthma attack, but whose donated organs saved five li

Lizzie Ford, who died at the age of 18 from an asthma attack, but whose donated organs saved five lives - Credit: Archant

A teenage girl who died after suffering from severe asthma has left an extraordinary legacy - with her donated organs saving the lives of five people, including that of a boy her own age.

Lizzie Ford

Lizzie Ford - Credit: Archant

Elizabeth Ford, known as Lizzie, was a perfectly healthy teenager until she was 15. But then she developed asthma so severe that she was in and out of hospital, until the condition caused her death aged just 18 in October last year.

The keen baker and blogger, described by her proud father David as an ordinary teenage girl, left behind a grieving family – but also the extraordinary gift of life.

Just a week before her death Lizzie, from Saxmundham, had a conversation with mum Lorna about organ donation.

And while they were still coming to terms with her sudden death Mr and Mrs Ford made the brave decision to honour their daughter’s wishes and allow her organs to be used to save others.

That is exactly what Lizzie’s organs did – her heart, kidneys, spleen and liver went to desperately ill people and gave them a second chance at life, including a heart transplant to a boy.

Now her family hope her story will inspire more people to sign the organ donor register.

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Earlier this month, Mr Ford attended the Ipswich and Suffolk Club where he received The Order of St John award for Organ Donation, run in conjunction with NHS Blood and Transplant, on behalf of his daughter. “We are immensely proud of her as a family that she had the attitude to help others but that was the sort of girl she was,” Mr Ford said of his daughter, a former Suffolk College and Alde Valley School pupil. “She hadn’t signed the register but we knew they were her wishes.

“It’s a difficult decision in some ways because you’re giving bits of your daughter away, but ultimately we had no hesitation in honouring Lizzie’s wishes.”

Mr Ford said Lizzie’s older siblings, Katie, Rebecca and Andrew were also consulted on the decision – all felt it was the right thing to do.

And they know she really did provide a lifeline to five other people.

“We know some of the organs have gone to older people but we know her heart went to a young boy the same age as her and we know he’s doing well,” Mr Ford added.

“That’s an amazing feeling for us as a family.

“Every day we think of her and the pain is awful but to know she helped those five people is a blessing.”

Mr Ford urged people to sign up to the organ donor register, saying it can help more than just the person who receives a donation – it’s a legacy which will live on through their friends and future family.

How do you become an organ donor?

- Simply visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk and fill out the online form - it takes two minutes but could save a life.

- Everyone can join the organ donor register, regardless of age, as long as they are legally capable of making the decision and live in the UK. There are some medical conditions that will prevent you donating organs and tissue.

- It is important to tell your family that you are joining the register, so they know your wishes.

Support Lizzie’s family fundraising

Lizzie’s brother-in-law Matthew Ford-Thomas is running next year’s London Marathon in her memory and on behalf of Asthma UK. To support Matt, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Mattandthemarathon

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