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Paramedic whose sister became an organ donor urges people to confirm their wishes

Alex and Gemma her daughter

This Organ Donation Week, (18th to 24th September), Vicky Jones, a paramedic and sister of a woman whose selfless organ donation saved three lives, is appealing with the NHS to urge people to confirm their support for organ donation on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Currently, 7,187 people are waiting for a life-saving transplant, the highest number in almost a decade. Clinicians have also warned that opportunities for life-saving transplants are still been missed, with 1,130 families declining to donate their loved ones organs last year.

NHS Blood and Transplant data shows that organ donation is still most likely to go ahead when a potential donor has proactively confirmed their decision to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Register, with 9 out of 10 families supporting donation when their loved one has confirmed their decision on the register.

Alex Ford, a mum of one and one of five siblings, was fit and active and an accomplished horse rider. Sadly the 49 year old, from Aberystwyth, was riding alone when she fell from one of her horses and was seriously injured in May 2022. She donated her organs saving lives.

Her sister Vicky, aged 58, from Haverfordwest, says: “Alex was a free spirit and loved being a mum to Gemma. She was very fit and active and looked after herself, the weekend before the accident she’d completed a triathlon involving paddleboarding, mountain cycling and a run.

“Alex was only weeks away from her 50th birthday and had planned a holiday with friends. She was very caring and had done various roles working in healthcare, she wanted to help people. She was working towards becoming a counsellor.

“She liked yoga, walking, music and she loved horses, she had three horses of her own. Alex was a consummate horse woman and she used to compete. Sadly she was riding when she had an accident and suffered a head injury.”

Alex was airlifted from Wales to Liverpool then the Walton Centre and her family were told she was very badly hurt.

Vicky, a paramedic, says: “Because of my job I understood what was happening with Alex and realised she was very unlikely to survive her injuries, I was able to keep calm and collected, I explained things and supported the rest of the family.

“One of my brothers asked if we were looking at organ donation and we were starting to think and talk about it. Then the specialist nurse said she had signed up to the register and wanted to be an organ donor.

“We made the decision as a family to support Alex’s decision, if it’s what she wanted – it was the way to go. Knowing Alex had joined the register many years ago confirmed what we were thinking and that it was the right thing to do.

“I don’t think we ever talked as a family about organ donation but we were aware of the benefits and felt it was the right thing to do. Family members give blood and it was just there in the background that you help people if you can. We knew how fit and healthy Alex was and felt she could really help others, but finding out she was on the register really underlined Alex’s wishes. It made it so much easier to know what to do for definite, she had already made that decision and we supported it.

“Three people are walking around today who wouldn’t have been because of Alex. It is very fitting, she was so caring and it comforts us to know she has made such a difference to others.”

Alex donated her heart, liver and a kidney helping three people. She has a daughter, Gemma, aged 22, and two sisters, two brothers and her mum.