Story of 84-year-old organ donor shared by GWH

By Barrie Hudson - 18 September 2023

  • Diana Episcopo

    Diana Episcopo

Organ Donation Week runs until Sunday 24 September and the NHS hopes to recruit at least 25,000 new donors in that time.

Swindon's Great Western Hospital is strongly backing the campaign and has shared the story of of a woman who became a donor at 84.

Last summer, Diana Episcopo was at home in Cirencester when she unexpectedly fell ill with what was later diagnosed as an unsurvivable brain bleed. 

Having gained a scholarship to the University of Cambridge at the age of 17, Diana had spent her life working as a doctor in the NHS. She was a proud member of the Organ Donor Register.

Although most people in the UK support organ donation, very few people die in circumstances that make it possible to donate their organs after death. Diana was one of these people, although her family were surprised to find out that at the age of 84 she would be able to donate.

To encourage others to consider becoming donors as part of Organ Donation Week, Diana’s daughter, Joanne Episcopo, has been sharing her story in a special film, which can be viewed at

In it, Joanne reflects on her surprise at being told her mum was eligible to donate her organs. However, it was possible and thanks to the work of specialists at the Great Western Hospital, Diana saved the lives of three people by donating her liver and kidneys.

Joanne said: “We didn’t expect that my mum might be a viable organ donor, so when we discovered that actually she was and that she could be, we were quite proud of her. I very much feel that my mum spent her life caring for people, and she was doing that in her death. 

"We were just amazed that at the age of 84 my mum could have organs that would help other people.”

Diana is the oldest donor referred to the South Central Organ Donation Services Team. This is an area within which the trust works, and which covers more than 5m people across Wiltshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire and Buckinghamshire. 

Diana was one of seven patients who donated their organs at the Great Western Hospital in the last year, resulting in 19 patients receiving life-saving transplants.

Trust Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation, Trudie Neveu, said: “It is very important that people support organ donation by proactively registering their decision to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Register or speaking with their family. 

"That’s what Diana did, helping us to deliver life-saving transplants. As always, the dedicated staff here at the Great Western Hospital will help families through every stage of the process during what is a very difficult time.”

Only a very small amount of people die in a way where it is possible for them to be organ donors. So, the more people who register as donors, the better chance we have of organ donation being possible.

Registration is simple and can be done via

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