Tragic Vicky's amazing gift of life

THE tragic death of a 23-year-old woman has helped save or improve the lives of seven other people and has inspired her family to register as organ donors.

David Green

THE tragic death of a 23-year-old woman has helped save or improve the lives of seven other people and has inspired her family to register as organ donors.

Vicky Johnson, from Stradbroke, died following a collision with a car when crossing a road in London earlier this month.

The trainee barrister, a former pupil of Diss High School and Framlingham College, had registered as an organ donor and, as a result of her death, the lives of at least seven people - including a one-year-old girl given only two days to live - have been saved or significantly improved by organ transplants.

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Now her sister, Katy, 26, brother, Rob, 25, and parents, David and Jennifer Johnson, have all registered as organ donors.

Both Katy and Rob had carried cards for some time but neither had registered with the NHS - an action which can be vital in ensuring that organs are used to help others.

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Vicky's father, David, 54, who runs the village shop and post office at Stradbroke, had carried a donor card at various times in his life but had never registered while the young woman's mother, Jennifer, 53, had looked at organ donation with what she called “a mother's reservations”.

“You hear so many stories about people coming out of a coma after doctors had given up hope. Vicky was given every chance but we were told that it would not be possible to recover from the injuries she had received. She was brain dead,” said Mrs Johnson, a teacher.

“All my fears were overcome by the staff at the Royal London Hospital and I've now registered as an organ donor along with the rest of the family.”

She added: “Vicky thought about life after death at an age when most people would not be giving it a thought and we want a greater awareness of organ donation to be part of her legacy.”

Katy, who was in South Africa when she heard the dreadful news of her sister's death, said the family were comforted by the thought that the tragedy had brought hope to so many others - people waiting for transplants and their families.

“When I heard Vicky's liver had helped save the life of a one-year-old girl I grasped on to that with both hands - at the time it was the only sense I could make out of my sister's death,” said Katy, who works for a film production company in South Africa.

“Vicky had been passionate about donating her organs when she died. She had talked to us about it at Christmas only a short while before she was killed.”

“We want to urge people to register as donors and tell their families of their wishes so that they can help people who are often in desperate need. We have tremendous solace in knowing that Vicky has been able to help others after her death.”

She described her sister as a “bright, bubbly, beautiful, intelligent girl” who had raised a lot of money for charity, especially for homeless people. “She had everything in life going for her,” said Katy.

Brother, Rob, said he had been travelling in Colombia when the news of Vicky's death was broken to him and it was nearly three days before he was able to get back to his family.

“We want people to register as donors and tell their families about their wishes. If it hadn't been for Vicky talking about what she wanted to happen after her death it would have been much harder when the time came,” he said.

Vicky was born in Leicester and after some years in Sussex came with her family to Stradbroke at the age of 14.

She took her GCSEs at Diss High School and won a scholarship to Framlingham College for her A- levels before starting a four-year law degree course at Nottingham University. This included a year studying in Texas.

Vicky returned to London to train as a barrister at Grays Inn and had her career “mapped out” - specialising in either human rights or commercial law.

Mr Johnson said the family wants to promote organ donation. “Ultimately, all we leave on this Earth is our genes and whilst Vicky did not have children she found a way of sustaining life after her passing, which is of considerable comfort to ourselves as well as untold benefit to the recipients and their families,” he said.

Richard Spurgin, whose daughter, Kate Trevarthen, 24, died while awaiting a heart transplant, said of Vicky's decision to donate her organs: “It is a wonderful thing which will give an enormous amount of confort to her family in the knowledge that she has helped so many people. Her selflessness will bring the family an enormous amount of pride as time goes by.”

Mr Spurgin said latest Government figures showed that the n umber of people who had registered as organ donors had doubled since 2001. “But more people are still urgently needed,” he added.

Mr Spurgin and his wife, Cathy, who live at Harleston on the Suffolk-Norfolk border, have been campaigning for a change in the law so that people have to opt out of donating their organs rather than opting in.

People can register as organ donors by logging on to to come

PATIENTS helped by receiving organs donated by Vicky Johnson

a one year old girl was given part of the young woman's liver. The toddler had been diagnosed with acute liver failure

a woman in her 50s suffering from chronic liver disease also received a liver transplant

a woman in her 60s received Vicky's heart

A woman in her 50s suffering from chronic lung disease received Vicky's lungs

A man in his 30s received Vicky's pancreas

Two people, one woman in her 30s and one in her 40s, received Vicky's kidneys

Other patients have benefitted from transplants of tissue from Vicky's body

Some of the patients have already been discharged home and the others are said by NHS transplant staff to be recovering.

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