Appeal for organ donors after Calderdale nurse’s gift of life

Hilary Shoesmith
Hilary Shoesmith

The partner of a much-loved nurse from Calderdale who died suddenly during a Sunday meal out is urging people to join the organ donor register to save lives.

Hilary Shoesmith, 58, a nurse for more than 40 years, suffered a brain haemorrhage in a restaurant in January this year.

Malcolm Rogers

Malcolm Rogers

She was with her partner of 15 years, Malcolm Rogers, who carried out CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) until the paramedics arrived.

Later, in the Intensive Care Unit at Calderdale Royal Hospital, when it was confirmed Hilary’s brain was dead, he asked doctors about organ donation.

Malcolm, of Mytholmroyd, said: “Hilary wanted to care for others all her life so I knew this was in her ethos and she would have been upset if I hadn’t done it. Indeed, she had herself registered on the NHS Organ Donation Register.

“Her father had died in similar circumstances and Hilary had taken some comfort when she was grieving from knowing that his organs had been donated. She believed passionately in donation.”

Hilary trained and worked at Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust, then moved to being a practice nurse in GP practices in King Cross and Shelf. Many of her patients attended her funeral.

Malcolm, 58, said: “Hilary had wanted to be a nurse from when she was around 10 years old and after hospital work went into GP practices because she wanted to establish long-term relationships with her patients. That is how caring she was.

“I just went into autopilot when it happened. You are in shock, yet her niece and I took the decision to allow donation and took comfort in the fact other people’s lives could be saved. That was very much what Hilary would have wanted.”

Malcolm paid tribute to doctors and nurses at Calderdale Royal Hospital.

He added: “They were incredibly understanding and caring. They answered all our questions and gave us as much time as we needed to decide about donation.”

Hilary’s name was placed on the hospital’s honeycomb memorial to people who have made the gift of life through donation.

Also in Hilary’s memory, Malcolm has had a bench placed in a hotel garden overlooking Loch Lomond, which was their favourite place.

Malcolm made his appeal for donors as part of Organ Donation Week.

He urged people to make their wishes known to family and friends so they could make the decision to allow donation in confidence if it is what their loved ones wanted.

Malcolm, added: “As a family member it is a very difficult decision to make but you have to respect the wishes of the individual. So, I would urge families to have those conversations now.

“It is a horrible time to go through but if any good can come out then this has to be it. In our case what could be a more fitting legacy from someone who was so dedicated to improving the health of others.

“There are people out there who have been given the gift of life by Hilary and I know she would have been very proud of that, as I am.”