‘Her heart still beats strong’ – says mum whose daughter helped save five lives through organ donation.


The National Organ Donation Week drew to a close on Sunday 8 September, however, a mother has shared her story to ensure the important messages about organ donation are not forgotten.

Maxine Forrest, a patient partner at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, lost daughter Sophie, 26, in February 2018.

Sophie spent her final days on the high dependency unit at Queen’s Hospital after a suicide attempt at home. When it was confirmed that she would not recover, her family knew she had wanted to donate her organs and carried out her wishes without hesitation.

Maxine, of Mayfield Gardens, Brentwood, said ‘Though it was a devastating experience, with sadness beyond belief, we were pleased that Sophie would live on by giving other families their loves ones back. Her heart still beats strong.

‘I received a letter telling me that five successful transplants had taken place, and I also received a beautiful letter from one of the recipients, thanking me and letting me know that he had his wife back, and his little girl had her mummy back. Sophie will never be forgotten, and she is also cherished by the families who have their loved ones as a result of her donations.

Sophie had left no specific instructions about organ donation, however, through conversations with her cousin, the recipient of a kidney transplant, her family knew it was what she wanted.

Ensuring your family are aware if you want to donate your organs after you die can make a huge difference. By knowing it’s what you wanted, they do not have to make the decision themselves, and have the comfort of knowing they are carrying out your wishes.

It was due to the compassionate care of the staff at the Trust which also led Maxine, 66, to become a patient partner, working with the women’s health division to improve care for other patients.

Maxine added’When we went to say goodbye to Sophie, we weren’t hurried and were treated with the utmost respect and compassion. The nurses even plaited Sophie’s long hair and cut it, alongside her brother Drew, who had long hair at the time, to donate it to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children with cancer.’

Maxine and Drew receiving the Order of St John.

Maxine and Drew also attended a special ceremony at Essex County Council in June 2018 where they were awarded the Order of St John due to Sophie’s donations.

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