CAMPAIGNING family and friends of a baby girl who died while waiting for a heart transplant have been given a boost.
Little Miley Turbitt lost her fight for life when she was just 14 weeks old.
She had been diagnosed with the most severe form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition rarely seen in babies, and was being kept alive by a life support machine.
She was at the top of the European Heart Transplant list, but her condition deteriorated before a donor could be found and she passed away at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital in November last year.
Her mum, Sharon Eckert, of Westmorland Road, South Shields, has since set up In Miley’s Memory, backed by the Gazette, to raise awareness of organ donation and encourage people to sign the Organ Donor Register.
Ms Eckert has been nominated for Role Model of the Year in the Pride of South Tyneside Awards, while her six-year-old son, Cole, has been put forward for Child of Courage with friends Caitlin and Ben Robertson. Caitlin, nine, and Ben, eight, got involved in the campaign as their dad, Gary, 39, from Hebburn, who died of a brain aneurism in March last year, was an organ donor.
Nominating Ms Eckert, Coun Ernest Gibson, who has raised awareness of the campaign within the council, said: “Despite her own personal grief and heartache, she has campaigned tirelessly to raise the profile of such an important issue.”
In his nomination for the children, he said: “Cole has been helping his mam with the campaign by telling people about his sister and why it’s important to sign the register.
“Caitlin and Ben have been promoting the pride they have in their father for being an organ donor to encourage people to sign up to the register.
“They have also helped in bag packing in supermarkets to raise money for the children’s heart unit at the Freeman.”
A gobsmacked Ms Eckert said: “I can’t believe I’ve been nominated. I’ve never had anything like this before. It’s brilliant. I’m really pleased.”
The Pride of South Tyneside Awards, organised by the Gazette, South Tyneside Council and the Customs House, recognise the borough’s unsung heroes.
Ten awards will be handed out at a glittering ceremony at the Temple Park Centre in South Shields on Sunday, April 28.