Family to hold guide dog fundraising fun day in memory of late South Yorkshire teen whose organs were donated to six people

After Nathan’s parents, Donna and Neil, learned their son’s organs could save the lives of other people suffering from a variety of illnesses, they gave the permission for them to be used. Nathan’s organs were subsequently donated to six people.

“Nathan would always help people no matter what, so it felt right to donate everything we could,” said Donna in 2020.

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Nathan Howson pictured with guide dog, Colson

Throughout Nathan’s childhood, the family cherished the time they spent providing a foster home to several guide dog puppies they helped to train, who later went on to become a vital aid to blind people.

Donna and Neil now want to raise enough money for a guide dog puppy named after Nathan, and are set to hold a fun day next month to raise the necessary funds.

“We want to do it, not just because of the fact that it will help someone else, but also because it’s nice to know that it’s being done in Nathan’s name. These dogs, the difference they make to people’s lives is incredible, they provide people with independence, ”said Donna.

She added: “It will be nice to know that we’ve helped to train a dog, and hopefully they will be able to help someone who needs them.”

The family fun day will be held between 10am and 6pm at Whiston PC Cricket club on Sunday, June 19 when visitors will be able to enjoy stalls; fairground rides; food; an adult’s fancy dress competition; a coloring competition; face painting, as well as activities to mark Father’s Day.

Donna described how she decided to start fostering guide dogs after she tragically lost her 18-year-old cat to brain cancer in 2012, and subsequently felt she wanted to have another pet, but did not feel she could cope with another similar heartbreak.

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Then, a friend told her about fostering guide dogs, or ‘puppy walking’ as it is also known, and the family soon became involved.

“Nathan absolutely loved them [the puppies]… he would take them into the garden and teach them the commands; he would groom them. And they loved him, the would know what time he came home from school and would wait for him, ”said Donna.

Donna described how the family were taking care of a puppy called Colton until the pandemic, after which time he had to go into boarding.

She said that two just two weeks before Nathan’s death, the teen was asking whether Colton would be able to come and stay with them again, and Donna assured Nathan he would.

Nathan was a healthy teenager but became ill quickly with a headache before losing consciousness.

He was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital (SCH) but, despite emergency surgery and other medical treatment, the damage to Nathan’s brain was extensive and he did not survive.

His death was caused by a bleed resulting from an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which is a tangle of blood vessels connected in an abnormal way.

Most people with an AVM, like Nathan, do not know until it bleeds.

Donna said SCH did a lot for Nathan, and consequently, the family have previously fundraised for both the hospital and Bluebell Wood’s Children’s Hospice, adding that the family now felt it was time to fundraise in Nathan’s name.

Anyone wishing to contribute, or hold a stall, at the fun day should email: [email protected]

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