SOUTH Tyneside’s medics have signed up in support of a lifesaving campaign launched in memory of a 14-week-old baby.
Tiny Miley Turbitt died last November when time ran out to find her a new heart.
Her devastated family launched ‘In Miley’s Memory’ – supported by the Gazette – to raise awareness of organ donation. They are also petitioning for a change in the organ donation system to one where a person is automatically registered, unless they opt out.
Now, South Tyneside District Hospital is adding support to the campaign. Last year, four people in South Tyneside died while waiting for organ donors.
Since the campaign started on February 11, 275 new people in the borough have signed up to the organ donation register.
Dr Sanjay Deshpande, clinical lead for organ donation with South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, hoped the local campaign would encourage even more people to sign up.
Dr Deshpande, a consultant anaesthetist at the hospital, said: “By signing up, you are giving hope to those waiting and, by your action, could actually save a life.
“The psychological and emotional impact for the patient of waiting to hear that their life-saving transplant is to go ahead is tremendous, and this also affects their family and friends.
“Everyone who joins the NHS Organ Donor Register is, potentially, reducing this agonising wait for others and helping to ensure that more lives can be saved.
“As there is no automatic registration at present, it’s important that those joining the register tell the people closest to them, otherwise their wishes might not be carried out if their loved ones are faced, unexpectedly, with a decision about proceeding with a life-saving donation.”
After the death of Miley, who suffered from a severe form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, her mum, Sharon Eckert, of Westmorland Road, South Shields, launched In Miley’s Memory.
Since the start of the campaign, she has been working tirelessly to raise awareness of organ donation and encouraging people to sign up to the register.
Ms Eckert said: “I am really pleased the hospital have come on board with the campaign.
“The support we have received has been amazing. I never thought when it was launched it would become so big. I am so grateful for everyone’s support.”
Completed forms should be handed in to the Shields Gazette reception in Chapter Row, South Shields, no later than March 28.