'My wife had no organ donor card, but our decision gave priceless chance at life to others'
Farmer Sean Rowlette's life changed forever six years ago when his wife Sally fell ill after giving birth to their youngest child. With Sally on a life support machine, Sean made the difficult decision to donate her organs.
"Sally gave birth to our daughter Sally, everything seemed normal but then there were complications and the medical team told me she wouldn't live," says Sean.
"It was the hardest decision of my life but I wanted something positive to come from the situation. Sally was a young and fit woman and had led a healthy life. She had no organ donor card but I discussed it with Sally's family and the nurses, and we decided it was the right thing to do."
Sean who runs a beef and sheep farm in Dromore West, Co Sligo said saying goodbye to Sally was the hardest thing he ever had to do.
"We found out that her bloods matched those looking for organs in Dublin.
"It was hard because she was still breathing albeit with a life support machine. Walking down the corridor and saying goodbye was awful," he adds.
Sean has been an advocate for organ donation for the last number of years and he and his four children, Leanne, Abbie, Joseph and Sally, attend the memorial service for organ donors every year in Dublin.
Sean adds that while he does not know the identity of those who received Sally's kidneys, lungs and pancreas, he has received letters from family members which have made him realise that the decision was the right one to make.
"One letter said that the organs had given their family member a new and priceless chance at life and hoped the letter eased my pain. Before receiving the letters, I used to think did we do the right thing, but now I know we did."
Sean says that raising his four young children after Sally's passing was difficult, but that they are all close and enjoy life on the farm.
His daughter Leanne enjoys singing and her rendition of 'Will You Go Lassie Go' went viral a couple of years ago. The 13-year-old recently sang at a St Patrick's Day festival in Spain and plays gigs in the north-west.
"Leanne really got into singing and sport after her mother died. It really helped her. She plays football for the Sligo under-14 team. All the children take an interest in the farm.
"All of us are organ donor card holders and if there is ever collections going on for the Irish Kidney Association (IKA), we always help out for an hour or two. We'd love to do more but it's hard with farm and family life being so busy."
IKA's Organ Donor Awareness Week is taking place until Saturday. Organ donor cards can be obtained by calling IKA on 01 6205306.