Agony of mum whose ‘hero’ daughter died saving others: ‘We were just willing her to blink’

A ‘hero’ little girl who died after suffering an epileptic seizure has saved the lives of five other people.

Ella Thatcher SUS-190315-114411001
Ella Thatcher SUS-190315-114411001

Ten-year-old Ella Thatcher suffered from a rare and severe form of childhood epilepsy.

She died in hospital in early 2018 when her shocked parents Anna and Mike made the agonising decision to donate Ella’s organs.

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Mum Anna, 46, this week relived the heart-rending moment.“It was the hardest thing because we were just willing her to blink or make a sign but after all the tests we were left in no doubt that she had gone.

Ella Thatcher SUS-190315-114351001

“It was a complete shock but I could see that everyone at Evelina London Children’s Hospital had tried their best and we both agreed that her organs should be donated if they were suitable.

“The staff were amazing right from the start. They stroked her hair, spoke to her and kept her warm.

“A senior nurse who had just finished a night shift even stayed to hold Ella’s hand in the operating theatre so she wasn’t alone.”

Anna, who has two other children, added: “It’s really comforting to know that a bit of her goes on and that other families didn’t have to go through the same thing.

Ella Thatcher's family and an artwork that honours those who have donated organs to help save others SUS-190315-114422001

“Because of Ella, five other families out there never had to plan funerals or miss the person they love.”

Ella’s heart, kidneys, lungs, liver and pancreas helped to save the lives of two children and three adults.

Anna, from Hurstpierpoint, said: “We received a letter from the child who got her heart and they called Ella a hero – that was amazing.”

Ella’s initials were recently engraved onto a new piece of artwork that honours those who have donated organs and helped save the lives of others.

Titled ‘The Song of the Nightingale’ and made from steel and felt, the artwork was created for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, which includes Evelina London Children’s Hospital, by a former patient and transplant recipient, Ted Harrison.

Anna said: “Although it’s been a year it still feels like yesterday to us so it’s nice to know that people are remembering Ella.

“I hope the new artwork raises awareness of organ donation and that people in the depth of their own grief can see that they can stop someone else going through the same thing by allowing their loved ones’ organs to be donated.”

Samuel Newman, specialist nurse for organ donation at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “There are more than 50,000 people alive today thanks to an organ transplant. This would not have been possible without the generosity and selflessness of thousands of organ donors like Ella, and the bravery of their families.

“Around 6,000 people are in need of an organ transplant in the UK so it remains as crucial as ever for people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

To sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register and to find out more, visit