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Friday 20 September 2019

'Our girl has saved two lives' - proud mum of organ donor Estlin (3)

Amy Dutil-Wall with Vincent and Est
Amy Dutil-Wall with Vincent and Est

A mum who donated her three-year-old daughter's organs after a fatal car crash says her little girl is a "double life-saver".

Amy Dutil-Wall said knowing that part of daughter Estlin lives on in others is something that keeps her going.

Amy is now appealing to bereaved parents to pass on their child's life to others through organ donation.

Amy's husband, Vincent, was driving Estlin from their home in Ennistymon, Co Clare, to a creche in nearby Inagh in March 2017 when tragedy struck.

Estlin was taken to University Hospital, Limerick, then Temple Street Children's Hospital, Dublin, with traumatic neck and brain injuries.

Amy Dutil-Wall with daughter Estlin
Amy Dutil-Wall with daughter Estlin

Her life-support machine was switched off three days later.

Vincent, who had serious head injuries, was put in an induced coma and missed Estlin's funeral.

Amid the heartbreak of learning of her daughter's death and her husband's critical condition, Amy made the decision to donate Estlin's organs while nurturing her 10-week old son, Mannix.

"The first on the scene after the crash were my husband's friends and his GP," said Amy, who comes from the US.

Goodbye

"We knew there was no hope for Estlin. Her brain stem had become detached from her spine - it's called internal decapitation."

Amy's family were able to fly over from the US to say goodbye to Estlin before the life-support machine was turned off.

"I had to say goodbye to my little girl, without Vincent. He was in a coma, and we were advised not to tell him of Estlin's death for five weeks. He missed her funeral which was hard for him to come to terms with," Amy said. "When I was asked about organ donation, I knew right away - I didn't have to give it a second thought. It seemed ridiculous not to give someone else a chance of life.

"Once I had decided, it kind of became my focus. Estlin suffered cardiac arrest, so her heart couldn't be donated - but she gave her lungs and kidneys.

"As they took my baby girl off life-support, I held her and felt the last beat of her heart.

"I wish now that I held her longer, but no amount of time would ever have been enough.

"I just kept thinking of the families she would help as I handed her lifeless body to the doctors for surgery."

As Amy tried to cope with her grief and support her husband, friends rallied round and organised help for a whole year.

"They were amazing. They would show up and do my laundry, or make me dinner, or take Mannix for a walk if I wanted to sit on the couch and cry my heart out."

Amy is full-time carer to Vincent, who had to give up his picture framing business because of his brain injury.

Two and a half years on, she never doubts that she did the right thing in donating Estlin's organs.

"We have received letters from her recipients in the UK. Estlin's lungs went to a boy suffering from cystic fibrosis and her kidneys went to a 60-year- old man on dialysis. Someday, I will write back. Someday.

"It's terrible that for a life to be saved, another has to be lost. For me, giving up a piece of Estlin's life means she's not dead.

"My three-year-old daughter is a double life-saver.

"How many of us can say they saved even one life? I hold on to that fact tightly in moments of grief."

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