A LIFESAVING campaign in memory of a South Tyneside baby has been backed by South Shields MP David Miliband.
Mr Miliband praised the bravery of mum-of-three Sharon Eckert during a meeting to discuss her campaign to boost organ donor numbers.
The 38-year-old launched the campaign, In Miley’s Memory, less than two months after her 14-week-old daughter, Miley Turbitt, died while waiting for a donor heart to be found.
The campaign – supported by the Gazette – aims to raise awareness of organ donation and encourage people to sign up to the organ donation register.
The family are also petitioning for a change in the organ donation system to a one where people are automatically registered unless they opt out.
It is a campaign that Mr Miliband says is “important” and he described Ms Eckert as “courageous”.
He said: “I have always thought the case for an opt-out system is overwhelming. If people do want to opt out for religious or other reasons, then there is always the option for them to do so.
“This is a great campaign and it’s incredible to see Sharon showing such courage and commitment in helping other people.
“Sharon is a great example and this is a great cause.
“There are a lot of people who are happy to be part of the organ donation register when the issue is raised but, until it is, it isn’t something they think about.”
During the meeting with Miley’s family, Mr Miliband heard about Miley from her older brother Cole, six.
Mr Miliband, who also signed the petition calling for an opt-out system to be introduced, added: “I think it’s great that Cole is involved in this campaign.”
Miley Turbitt suffered from a severe form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and needed a new heart if she was to have any chance of surviving.
Despite a European-wide search, a heart donor could not be found in time.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a condition which causes the heart muscle to become thick.
Ms Eckert, said: “I never expected when I launched the campaign to receive so much support or that I would be meeting David Miliband to talk about it.
“To know we have his support and that he has also signed the register is fantastic.
“All the support we are receiving means so much to us and it just makes us feel as though Miley isn’t just another statistic.
“We are taking something that has caused us so much heartache and trying to make something positive come from it.”
Completed forms should be handed in to the Gazette office in Chapter Row, South Shields, by March 28. To sign up to the organ donation register, go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk
In Miley’s Memory campaign has received the support to date of firefighters, police, Stonegate pub company, which owns Kirkpatricks bar in South Shields, Kuei-Ling Kickboxers and Checkmat Brazilian Jui Jitsu club based at South Shields Fight Factory in Frederick Street.