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Mum speaks out on ‘agony’ of losing 15-year-old son after sudden death

Written by on 02/11/2020

A grieving mum has spoken out about her “overwhelming” pride after suddenly losing her 15-year-old son following a bleed on the brain.

Nathan Howson from Rotherham died earlier this year but there were no signs as he didn’t suffer from any serious medical conditions.

His mum Donna described him as a “healthy” and “typical” teen.

She said he was “perfectly fine” when he went to bed the Friday before he passed away.

The next morning Donna heard Nathan shouting in “distress” and went into his bedroom to find he couldn’t move his right side.

The teen told his mum he had a headache moments before losing consciousness and having a seizure.

Donna and Neil, who rushed in to help, called 999 as Nathan continued fitting and going in and out of consciousness.

After arriving at Sheffield Children’s Hospital Nathan had a scan which revealed a massive bleed on his brain.

Nathan Howson shortly before he died
(Image: © Donna Howson / SWNS)

He underwent surgery to try and relieve the pressure before a subsequent scan showed a blood clot and that the brain had been starved of oxygen.

Further efforts were made over the next three days to relieve the pressure.

However, on Tuesday the Howson family were told, in Donna’s words, that the part of the brain “which made Nathan, Nathan” was gone.

Donna said: “It was absolutely devastating, we had never given up hope that we would be leaving the hospital with our son.”

Later that day Donna and Neil, 49, had their first meeting with Sheffield Children’s organ donation team.

Donna said: “We didn’t even have to think about whether to agree or not.

“Although we were sure about what we were doing, signing those consent forms was very surreal.”

Donna said the two days between signing the forms and Nathan’s body being taken away were far more difficult than the decision itself.

She added: “Even though we knew he was gone it was difficult to get our heads around.

“The blood was still flowing through his veins, his body was warm to the touch, so it felt like he was still with us.

“That was something we had to come to terms with.”

Donna said when the nurses came to take Nathan’s body it was like “angels dressed in blue” had come to collect him.

After his organs were harvested Nathan’s body was taken to Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospital where Donna, Neil and their other son Adam, 20, spent five days saying goodbye.

Nathan’s organs went on to help six other people.

Nathan Howson died suddenly due to a bleed on his brain
(Image: PA)

Donna said: “We are so proud of what he has done.

“There are six people in the world now living healthier, happier lives because of Nathan.

“Even though he is gone, our son continues to do good in the world, and that’s a great comfort.

“His death was not in vain.”

Donna, who cares for her mum and volunteers for charity, said she is speaking publicly about Nathan’s death to raise organ donation awareness.

She said: “I want to stress how important organ donation is.

“I know it’s not an easy decision for everyone but the good it can do is amazing.

“Nathan’s donation alone proves that – there are six healthier people today because of him.

“And it’s not just those people who are better off, it’s their mums, dads, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and everyone else.

“Hopefully people don’t find themselves in the position that we did, but if they do I would strongly urge them to say yes.”

Specialist organ donation nurse at Sheffield Children’s Clare Croxall said: “When families find themselves in this position and they agree to donation we are always in awe of their selflessness in such a sad and terrible time for them.

“Nathan’s family personified this giving and generous nature by agreeing to organ donation despite their shock and grief.

“Nathan helped six people through his donation and as a team of specialist nurses in organ donation and on behalf of the recipients, we will never be able to thank Nathan and his family enough.”