Tuesday 25 July 2017

‘In the blackness, organ donation was the only light in Eamonn’s death’- Irish mum who tragically lost her only son in car accident

Eamonn Goggin donated his organs after being involved in a fatal car accident in Galway in 2006
Eamonn Goggin donated his organs after being involved in a fatal car accident in Galway in 2006
The Circle of Life Garden set up by Martina and Denis Goggin
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

A mother who lost her only son in a car accident has said that during her darkest hours, the fact that his organs allowed others to continue living, was her only source of comfort.

Martina Goggin lost her only son Eamonn (26) in 2006, five days after he was involved in a fatal car accident in Galway. She and her husband Denis followed through with Eamonn’s wishes to donate his organs when it became apparent he was not going to regain consciousness.

“We lost our son Eamonn ten years ago this July. He died in a car accident in Spiddal in 2006. He was the front seat passenger and sustained severe head injuries in the crash. He was on life support for five days after the accident which was the hardest time. When it became apparent that he was not going to pull through, a decision was made to donate his organs.

“It was funny because some months earlier, perhaps during an awareness week like this one, an ad came on the television and we discussed it between the two of us.

Denis and Martina Goggin, founders of the National Organ Donor Commemorative Garden, holding a photograph of their son Eamonn whose organs were donated following a car accident in 2006, at the opening of the Garden in Salthill. Photo: Brendan Kennelly
Denis and Martina Goggin, founders of the National Organ Donor Commemorative Garden, holding a photograph of their son Eamonn whose organs were donated following a car accident in 2006, at the opening of the Garden in Salthill. Photo: Brendan Kennelly

“I said ‘Well if anything ever happens to me, I carry a donor card, you know what to do’ and Eamonn agreed. He said ‘What’s the point of taking your organs with you when you go?’. I’m not sure he ever got a donor card but it was enough that I knew his wishes,” said Martina.

Before his death Eamonn donated his kidneys, liver and heart, which went on to save the lives of four people, which Martina admitted was a huge comfort when she was overwhelmed with grief.

“After Eamonn’s death there was an indescribable darkness. He was our only child and everything just changed so dramatically.

“In the blackness, organ donation offered a scope of light. It became the only positive of Eamonn’s death and it gave me a comfort to know that his death was not in vain. He had donated his kidneys, his heart and his liver and after it was over there was a comfort in knowing he helped others continue with their lives,” she said.

In the wake of Eamonn’s death, the couple set up Strange Boats, a support network for the families of organ donors and have since opened a commemorative garden to reflect on the generosity of organ donors.

“My husband and I decided to set up Strange Boats in the years after our son’s death. When I was grieving I was desperately looking for information online about organ donation, and I felt like it was just figures. There wasn’t much of a human side to it, or an outlet for the families of donors left behind.

“In the years since, the organisation has been a source of comfort for me and my husband, other families and even donor recipients.

“In 2014, after much funding and campaigning, we opened the gates to The Circle of Life garden in Salthill in Galway, which is a commemorative place for all those who generously donated organs to others.”

The Circle of Life Garden set up by Martina and Denis Goggin
The Circle of Life Garden set up by Martina and Denis Goggin

“It’s just off the promenade in Galway and it’s a reflective garden were people can come and think of the family member they lost. It unites people. It was a lot of work to reach this point with the garden but it is worth it in the end,” she said.

Martina believes a parent never gets over the loss of a child, but she revealed she has learned to accept Eamonn’s death however, she urged Irish people to have a conversation about organ donation with their families.

“I’ll never get over losing Eamonn but over the years I’ve accepted it. Organ Donation is so important and it has been a wonderful thing to know that Eamonn’s life lives on in the life of someone he saved.”

Organ Donor Awareness Week 2016, which is organised by the Irish Kidney Association, will take place from 2nd – 9th April

Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association  LoCall 1890 543639 orFreetext the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website www.ika.ie

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