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Kai's story

Kai lives on in others, what could be more precious.

When we got the call that Kai had been admitted to ICU, I hoped that he would be alive until we could consent to organ donation. As a nurse I understood the reality but prayed for a miracle. We had 700 kilometres to travel to be by his side.

35 years earlier, I had nursed an 18 year old male in the same ICU, as we waited for his parents, who were on vacation to be contacted for consent for corneal donation.

Two days before Kai was admitted to hospital I sang at a funeral for a 16 year old girl who had donated organs and the comfort her mother portrayed in her grief was palpable.

My five year old niece and 46 year old brother both died suddenly and therefore were unable to donate organs. Kai was registered for donation and I wanted him to have that opportunity.

Kai was an active healthy child who enjoyed many adventures with family and friends. He matured into a strong and physically fit adult who achieved at many sports.

He was nominated for Australian of the Year, recognising his commitment to basketball, both as a player and a coach. Kai was 22. He was struggling with life crises and decided to take his own life.

Four days later when Kai was confirmed ‘brain dead’ the decision to donate his organs gave us a ‘positive’ to think about in an otherwise desperate situation. It gave me something that I had control of beyond being an onlooker.

I am used to being the nurse, not the nursed, and it gave me a focus. But I also quickly realised that this was a family decision which included his father, sister and brother. It was not mine alone to make.

To know that recipients and their families have been given the opportunity to turn their distress into joy and renewed life with the organs of such a beautiful strong fit young adult provides us with comfort in our grief and healing.

Kai lives on in others, what could be more precious.

One of Kai’s favourite sayings…

‘Good, better, best, never let it rest until your good is better, and your better is best.’

Rest peacefully my beautiful boy.


Nicky Burton