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Sprowston footballer's death inspires friends to join organ donor register

PUBLISHED: 06:30 07 June 2012 | UPDATED: 13:59 07 June 2012

Sprowston footballer Liam Still died following a car crash on May 19.

Sprowston footballer Liam Still died following a car crash on May 19.

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The family of a young Sprowston footballer who died following a road accident have described their experience of living through "every parent's worst nightmare".

Sign up to save a life

The majority of people would accept an organ if they needed one.

Yet just one person in three is on the organ donor register.

More than 10,000 people in the UK currently need a transplant, but 1,000 of these people – three a day – will die waiting.

The figures below from the NHS, for the year to March 2011, show a simple truth: that more donors mean more lives saved.

• 3,740 organ transplants were carried out in the year to March 2011, thanks to 2,055 donors;

• 1,008 lives in the UK saved through a heart, lung, liver or combined heart/lungs, liver/kidney, liver/pancreas or heart/kidney transplants;

• 2,732 patients’ lives were improved by a kidney or pancreas transplant, including 156 combined transplants;

• A further 3,564 people had their sight restored through a cornea transplant;

• 567 non-heartbeating donor kidney transplants – a record – took place and accounted for one in five of all kidney transplants;

• 1,045 living donor kidney transplants were carried out, with 60 altruistic donor transplants, paired and pooled donations;

• Almost 675,000 more people pledged to help others after their death by registering their wishes on the NHS Organ Donor Register, bringing the total to 17.75m.

To put your name on the organ donor register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call the 24-hour hotline on 0300 123 23 23.

The family of a young Sprowston footballer who died following a road accident have described their experience of living through “every parent’s worst nightmare”.

The parents of Liam Still, 21, yesterday spoke of their pride in his decision to join the organ donor register before his death – and thanked the friends who have followed his lead.

They are now urging others to make the commitment and join the life-saving register.

The popular footballer, who played for Wroxham FC and Riverside Rovers, was described as “the ideal son” by his parents, Richard and Amanda.

Liam had started a new job just weeks before he crashed his car while driving home on the B1108 Watton Road at Bawburgh in the early hours of Saturday, May 19. He was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, but died from his injuries five days later.

His parents paid tribute to their football-mad son as a generous and big-hearted “people person”, who had a talent for finding the best in everyone.

“He was such a loving boy, and a real big softie,” said Mr Still, 45.

“His whole outlook was ‘why do something today if you can do it tomorrow?’ His attitude was mañana, mañana.

“He had a great connection with people, and got on so well with everyone, especially children.”

Liam, who lived with his mother in St Margaret’s Drive following his parents’ separation, was a former Sprowston Community High School pupil and was a trainee cashier at Barclays Bank in Norwich.

When doctors broke the news that he was unlikely to recover from his devastating brain injuries, his parents began to think of donating his organs – not knowing that Liam had already made arrangements.

“We knew it’s what he would have wanted, but we didn’t know he had already put himself on the donor list,” said Ms Still.

“It has brought us some comfort that people will benefit because of what Liam did.”

Liam’s liver, two kidneys and heart valves will all go towards potentially life-saving operations, and monitoring data from his time in intensive care will be used for research.

Already, the example he set has rippled through his group of friends.

His sister Katie, 19, posted a link on her Facebook page showing people where to register.

She said: “Since then, people keep telling me they have done it too – there must have been about 40 or 50 people who have joined the donor list.”

Friends and team-mates from Liam’s football teams have joined the organ and blood donor register, and his family want others to do the same.

“It’s a difficult thing to discuss, but what Liam did has brought it to everyone’s attention. People should discuss it as families,” said Mr Still.

Seeing the good their son has done has brought his parents comfort, as have the hundreds of cards of condolence which fill the family home and messages through online tribute sites.

“We didn’t realise just how popular he was until the outpouring of grief from people,” said Ms Still.

“It means a lot to know he was so well-liked. We have had so many people come forward to tell us how they knew him and how much he meant to them. It’s almost been a shock.”

The messages of support helped sustain the family as they tried to cope in the days before Liam’s death.

They also had praise for the emergency services and hospital staff, who they said had been “out of this world”.

Mr Still said: “I think in truth we knew on the Saturday that we had lost him, but we were just clutching on to any straw.

“From the Monday, we knew the prognosis was that we were going to lose him.”

Uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents arrived to see Liam, maintaining a constant presence at his bedside.

The decision was taken to remove Liam from the ventilator and not to resuscitate him. He died in the early hours of Thursday, May 24.

“We have had so much support from people,” said Mr Still. “They are being strong for us and we are being strong for each other, but we are all devastated.”

A funeral service for Liam will be held at 1pm on Tuesday at St Mary and St Margaret’s Church in Sprowston, followed by a private cremation and a wake at Sprowston Social Club.

Liam’s family are raising money for equipment at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital unit where he was treated. Donations to Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (NCCU) can be sent to John D Brown Funeral Services, 102 North Walsham Road, Norwich NR6 7QQ.

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