Penny and Brittany Nickel lost a son and a brother respectively when Brandon Nickel died following a car crash three years ago.
But Brandon’s organ donations saved four lives and helped many others.
Brandon was in a single motor vehicle accident on July 5th, 2013. He was 20. He was transported to GRH, then airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital and passed on July 6th.
Penny is a recreational therapist at GRH’s Freeport Campus, while Brittany is a registered practical nurse in complex care at Freeport
Just weeks before Brandon died, their family had a discussion on organ donation and all committed to register.
As GRH marks our support of blood, organ and tissue donation, here’s Penny and Brittany’s account of Brandon’s life and the difference he made.
What was Brandon like? What was his best quality?
Brandon was quiet and shy, but always helpful. He was kind hearted and very stubborn, in his own way. As a young man his best qualities were his determination and work ethic.
Had you ever spoken about organ donation before this all happened? What was that conversation like?
We (Brittany and Penny) participated in the five kilometer K-W Transplant Trot in the spring of 2013. Following that event and hearing the organ donor and recipient stories that day we had the discussion with our family during dinner and all agreed of the importance of organ donation and each planned to register on line. Brandon’s accident was a few weeks later.
Do you remember the conversation about organ donation when Brandon was in hospital?
When Brandon was in emergency at Hamilton General Hospital, the doctors informed us that his brain injury was very severe and his prognosis poor. Although we still had hope, we indicated at that time, if he would not recover from this tragedy, we wanted to donate his organs if possible. We wanted something positive to come of this tragedy.
Once in the intensive care unit, we met with staff from the Trillium Gift of Life Network. Judy, the Trillium nurse was very patient and understanding. We remember feeling very informed about every step. It was a very difficult conversation, talking about donating his organs when he was still with us. We were very thankful to be involved in the discussions and input. Even as a nurse and therapist working in a hospital setting, we were not aware of all that could be donated
How has his donation affected your perspective on organ donation?
We all support organ donation, even more so after our experience. After returning home from Hamilton General Hospital, we all proceeded to register with organ donation on line. It is important to discuss with your family as you never know what will happen tomorrow.
We are thankful Brandon was able to donate and help others and that his death meant something not only to us but others as well. We are confident this is something Brandon would have wanted, to help others.