The gift of sight

David Doherty
David Doherty
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A Lancaster dad has left the ultimate Father’s Day gift by saving or restoring the sight of four people following his tragic death.

David Doherty’s life was cut short at the age of 50 following a heart defect but his determination to be an organ donor has led to his eyes being used in successful transplant operations and his bones, skin and tendon being stored to help others.

David’s eyes were used to either fully restore or vastly improve the sight of three men aged 26, 30 and 49, and a 60-year-old woman.

His skin can now be used in life-saving operations for up to 10 people who have suffered from severe burns, and the bone and tendon donations may be used to help a further 12 people whose own bones and tendons have become diseased or damaged over time.

With Father’s Day approaching on Sunday, David’s family are grieving but said they were “proud and happy” of his legacy, which is breathing new life into others.

Daughter Emma said: “He died on April 1 and it hasn’t really sunk in yet. But the fact that parts of him will now live on in others is a good thing and is giving us some focus.” A post-mortem examination revealed that David, of Cleveleys Road, Scale Hall, died from Ischaemic heart disease and Atherosclerosis.

Emma said: “It was instant.

“He was sitting at home talking with my mum Mandy, then he tilted his head back and that was it, he was gone.

“The ambulance arrived in two minutes and the paramedics tried to resuscitate him but it was too late.

“They had to act fast and operate within 48 hours, and we have just received letters to tell us what happened to parts of his body.”

Emma added: “He used to struggle to read anything, he used to wear glasses so we were surprised and shocked to find out his eyes had been useful.

“He always used to say his organs would be no good to him when he was gone, and that he was getting cremated anyway.

“We’re really proud, especially to know that parts of him live on, and have been some use to others. It’s nice to know that.”

David, a scaffolder by trade, also had three sons – Shaun, David and James – and three grandchildren, with another one on the way.

Emma said: “I’m glad I got to tell him I was pregnant.

“He was a nice man, really protective of mum, and he taught us how to stick up for ourselves, but he softened when he got older, especially when the grandchildren came along.”

David was cremated at Lancaster Crematorium on April 14.

Emma added: “It’s always been the case that both my parents have wanted to donate, and all the family are now on the organ donation list.

“We didn’t expect to get letters back straight after he died.

“We knew they’d be taking things, but we didn’t expect to find out what they’d take.

“We went to see him about six times after he died. They took his eyes but they made replicas of them, even down to the pigmentation.

“They took the skin from his back and the back of his legs, and the bone from his knees, so he didn’t look any different.

“I think everybody should do it. What use are they to you after you die? We have the opportunity to help so many people.”

Helen Gillan, general manager of NHS Blood and Transplant Tissue Services said: “Tissue donation can help to save and transform lives.

“Donated corneas can restore eyesight. We rely on, and are very grateful for, the generosity of our donors like Mr Doherty and their families.

“Thanks to them we are able to provide skin, tendons, bone and other tissues to repair or rebuild the bodies and lives of thousands of people.”

If you would like to help others after your death, please register on the NHS Organ Donor Register, either Online: www.organdonation.nhs.uk

or call 0300 123 23 23.

It’s really important to let your close family and friends know your donation wishes. In the event that you should become a donor, your family will be asked to give their consent so letting them know your wishes is an important part of the registration process.