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Family's thanks helps hospital garden grow

Andrew and Sue

A former Morriston Hospital patient, who dedicated his life to helping others, is still doing so after he sadly died.

Andrew Nicholson, who enjoyed two terms as Pontardawe’s town mayor and served as a union rep in the DVLA, was rushed to Morriston Hospital’s Emergency Department in July, following a suspected stroke.

Despite the best efforts of staff, the 60-year-old father of two later died following several days in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Pictured above: Andrew and Sue

Now his family have presented the hospital with a £1,400 cheque as a thank you to those who worked so hard to save his life, asking that the money goes towards a garden for the ICU.

Andrew is also helping others by consenting to donating his organs following his death.

His wife, Sue Northcott, said: “The staff were absolutely amazing all of the time. I honestly can’t fault them at any point. They were so understanding and so supportive.”

As a thank you the family – Andrew’s parents and sister, two children, Cari and Geraint, and a new granddaughter – has asked mourners to make a donation towards the ICU project.

Sue said: “Andrew always wanted to make things better for other people. That’s why he was a union rep and a councillor. He was the most generous person you could ever meet.

“I knew that he was well thought of and we just wanted to do something that would help other people.” 

The request is for the money to go towards making a garden for families in the grounds near the ICU.

She explained: “While we were in ICU there was beautiful weather but we were in a tiny little waiting room, most of the time. It would have been really nice to get outside where the staff knew we were.

“When they mentioned they were looking to make a garden, it seemed perfect to make a donation.”

The other unselfish act was Andrew donating his organs – a process made easier for the family as he had already spoken about his wishes.

Sue said: “Andrew had recently renewed his driving licence and had ticked the box for organ donation.

“We talked about it often as a family. It was never a case of having to worry about it. We knew what he wanted and went down that route.

“Because we’d had the conversations, as a family we are quite open about that sort of stuff it wasn’t difficult. The whole family was in absolute agreement. There was never any question.”

If Andrew’s organs are transplanted the family will be informed.
Sue said: “If anything comes of it they will tell us.

“I think at the moment they haven’t been able to do much with his organs but everything is going to research. His eyes still might help somebody.

“Anything it does is always a positive. Even if it just helps encourage someone else to go down the same route.

“We were shocked when they told us the figures of how few organs are actually donated from Morriston.”

Sue encourages others to have the conversation.

She said: “You have got to normalise this type of thing.

“It was like his funeral. We knew what he wanted. It may sound a bit weird but we talked about that sort of thing all the time – what music we’d like and what we wouldn’t want.

“We were both directors of the Pontardawe Folk Festival at one time - I ran the craft market and Andrew was site manager - so we had folk music in the service.”

Linda Middleton, in Morriston’s Major Critical Care Department, thanked the family for their kind donation and praised Andrew’s actions in giving his organ donation consent.

She said: “I hope it sparks people to have those difficult conversations with their families, if nothing else. 

“None of us live forever and knowing ones beliefs and values is important. That in itself is an act of kindness, as it takes the burden of decision making away from your remaining family.”

Kathryn Gooding, a specialist nurse for organ donation, said: “Sue and her family were clear donation was something Andrew would have wanted, ensuring they were able to carry out a decision he made in life, in his death. 

“We continue to be overwhelmed by families like Andrew’s that think of others at their most difficult times.”

Kathryn also revealed Sue is playing an active role in encouraging others to consider organ donation.

She said: “Not only have Andrew’s family made the generous contribution to our ITU garden, but Sue has kindly agreed to be part of our Organ Donation Committee, a group to develop organ and tissue donation within our health board.”

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