Lyn Jarvis’s interview with Larine Statham-Blair

Lyn Jarvis’s six-year-old son, Clint, suffered a brain injury and was on life support for two weeks before doctors asked if she and her husband would consider donating his organs. Their selfless decision saved the lives of two people.

Larine: Hi Lynn. We’ve spent the past two weeks interviewing people whose lives have been touched by organ donation in different ways. We’ve spoken to people that are on waitlists, we’ve spoken to people that have received organs. I lost a very dear friend of mine when he was 16. His parents, made the decision to donate his organs. So that’s why we’re telling the story because I’m an organ donor, and it’s something that I feel very passionate about. I know this is very close to your heart too, would you mind telling me your story?

Lyn: It was 33-years-ago. Our son Clint was involved in an accident, he was six at the time. He was flown to Darwin and on life support for two weeks, but declared brain dead at that stage. We went to hell and back. At the time we were told he wouldn’t survive the night, but he did. We were kind of blessed in a way, to have two weeks with him in ICU.

Larine: What year was this Lynn?

Lyn: 1988. Looking back, I’m so grateful for the doctor having the courage to approach us about turning off Clint’s life support. After he was declared brain dead, there was no choice or option, there is no life without the brain. After the news, I walked past a room and heard my husband Norm say ‘Oh, you’ll have to ask Lynn that’. That’s when a few moments later a doctor approached me and we discussed whether we would donate Clint’s kidneys. Kidneys are the most sought-after organ, and his kidneys went to two people.

Larine: Your courage is remarkable Lyn. One of the common themes that came through in the interviews we did with people that received organs is that they’re grateful at the life they’ve been able to continue. But they also feel a responsibility to live life to the fullest to do justice to the person who passed away. How does that make you feel?

Lyn: That’s a wonderful gesture by the recipients, to live a full life. It’s very respectful. At the time of Clint’s passing, they weren’t allowed to tell you where the organs were going. A social worker suggested we write a letter to each recipient, that she promised to pass on. We wrote about Clint, what he was like as a child. That was in 1988, and it wasn’t until 2010, when a friend of mine was a heart transplant recipient, that she noticed my sons name on a plaque. This then led to us speaking with Helen, our original social worker, about possibly contacting who received Clint’s kidneys.

Larine: It’s a remarkable, selfless decision you and your husband made Lynn.

Lyn: I guess, but it was an easy decision because I knew what it was like and how it felt to be sitting by your child in hospital. We thought of the relief that family would feel, knowing the kidneys were available and match for size.

Larine: I assume it was another child who received the kidneys?

Lyn: We found out a 14-year-old boy received one kidney, and a 25-year-old woman received the other. Sometimes it’s not only age that matches, but body size.

Larine: Lynn, what would be your message to other people that are confronted with a similar situation that you and your husband faced in 1988?

Lyn: A lot of people have said ‘I couldn’t do that’. People say they don’t want their loved one ‘mutilated’, but that doesn’t happen. The doctors and nurses treat the donor, in our case our son, with so much respect and awe, they are gifting life after all. To those who feel conflicted, I’d say close your eyes and imagine your loved one fighting for life and needing an organ. Then imagine word of an organ coming and the relief they must feel. That’s what we did, and we are proud of our son.

Read the full Gift of Life photo essay story The gift of life
Special thanks to local organ donation specialist nurse, Karen Jenner.