A mother's compassionate spirit lives on

Stewart Turner remembers his mum as one of the more compassionate people you would ever meet.

"She had a great deal of respect for people regardless of their situation, and she always looked for the best in people," Mr Turner, 18, said.

It came as no surprise then that when she discussed organ donation with her husband Rodney Fiddaman, Doris Turner said she would want to give others a chance at life if hers was cut short.

Tragically, on July 14, 2003, that happened.

The family had moved from Canberra to Seattle for Mr Fiddaman's work. Visa restrictions prevented Mrs Turner from working, but she was using the time to look after herself and get fit.

"After she tidied up the house, she got into her exercise. It was a program on DVD that was fairly heavy on aerobics. At around 8:15am, she blew an aneurism and collapsed," mr Fiddaman said.

Mrs Turner, 49, was taken to the hospital, where it took doctors two hours to stabilise her. She had been severely lacking in oxygen for about 10 minutes.

Doctors and social workers prepared Mr Fiddaman and his step-son for the worst. Friends and family gathered in Seattle and Canberra. The next morning, a doctor told the family the news they had been dreading.

"He said her brain had swollen and there was nowhere for it to go inside the skull except downwards, and it had swollen ot the point that her brain activity had ceased," Mr Fiddaman said.

"This was the pivotal momentt and we had talked about it. She had said 'I want my ashes scattered at sea, and of course make use of everything you can'."

After dicussing the issue with Mr Turner, Mr Fiddaman decided not to donate "anything on the outside".

"I had given some thought to the eyes. But having looked into those eyes so many times, I said 'no way'."

Mrs Turner's heart valve was recovered but was unsuiitable to transplant. Both her kidneys were recovered and transplanted.

"My message is talk to your family. Lookat the organ donor register and consider putting yourself on it. Talk about the implications of donating various organs and tissue parts," Mr Fiddaman said.

"I knoew Doris would have supported it. That's a definite."