Special honour for teenager who gave gift of life through organ donation

A teenager who saved lives through the gift of organ donation has been posthumously honoured.

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019, 5:26 pm
Michael Rajnis

Family of Michael Rajnis received the Order of St John Award for Organ Donation, run in conjunction with NHS Blood and Transplant, which is given to loved ones on their behalf.

Other news: Grieving Wigan couple's fund-raising transforms hospital baby bereavement suiteThe Golborne 19-year-old became a lifesaving donor having died as a result of an fit which left him unconscious in 2018.

The Wetherspoon pub bar attendant had ambitions to go on to university to study graphic design. Michael had suffered from black-outs and fits since 2017, and after visiting his GP and undergoing a number of tests he was advised that he had epilepsy.

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Harold and Patricia Rajnis with the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester

He was found unconscious in his bedroom and although paramedics tried to resuscitate him he had slipped into a coma.

Michael was taken to Wigan Infirmary where he underwent a brain scan and blood tests. He was put on a ventilator and as his condition was critical, the medical team advised that he had suffered severe brain damage.

Katy Rajnis, who received the award on behalf of Michael at a ceremony at Chetham’s School in Manchester, said, “Two weeks before his injuries, he had put his name down on the organ donor register. It was just the kind of person he was.

“It provides us all with a great deal of hope, knowing that someone else is living because of Michael. He was such a good person.

Katy Rajnis with the Lord of Lieutenant of Greater Manchester Warren Smith

“I would describe him as someone that would do anything for anyone. He was beautiful inside and out. If someone out there can benefit from a better quality of life from my brother’s organs, then I think that is an amazing thing. I was so proud to receive his award.”

It has not been disclosed which and how many organs were donated by Michael nor how many recipients there were.

Tony Shepherd, Head of County Priory Group Affairs for the Priory of England and the Islands of the Order of St John, said: “Organ donation can clearly save lives and it is a genuine privilege to be able to say thank you to these families, whose loved ones have already donated their organs to save other people’s lives.

“People are still dying every day because some families are not talking about donation. We hope the example set by the organ donors whose lives we are honouring encourages many others to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. It only takes two minutes to join the millions of other people who want to save lives.”

From spring 2020, the law around organ and tissue donation in England is changing. All adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.*

Organ donation is a most precious gift and adults covered by the change will still have a choice whether they want to be an organ donor and their families will still be involved before organ donation goes ahead.

Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The pride families feel at these ceremonies is clear to see. Transplant patients tell us that organ donors and their families are heroes. This award is a chance for us all to recognise their bravery and generosity, and their amazing contribution to society.

“More and more people are supporting organ donation but there is still an urgent shortage of donors. We hope these awards will inspire other people in Manchester to tell their families they want to save lives.

"Telling your family that you want to be an organ donor makes things easier at a difficult time. Families tell us donation is a source of comfort and great pride that helps families in their grieving process and we don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to donate.

“Please join the NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk and tell your family you want to save lives through organ donation.”