A LIFE-SAVING Gazette-backed campaign launched after the death of a baby from South Tyneside is on its way to Downing Street.
Next month, Sharon Eckert will make the emotional journey from South Shields to London to deliver a petition calling for a change in the organ donation system.
The 39-year-old wants to see everyone automatically registered as an organ donor unless they chose to opt out – and so do 1,500 people who have signed her petition.
The mother-of-three organised the campaign – called In Miley’s Memory – after the death of her daughter at the age of just 14 weeks as she waited for donor heart to become available.
Miley Turbitt – who suffered from a severe form of the heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – died in Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital while medical staff searched Europe looking for a suitable donor organ.
Her death saw Ms Eckert launch the campaign in February.
Supported by the Gazette, it aims to encourage people of all ages to sign up to the organ donation register.
Now Ms Eckert has been given the chance to deliver her petition to Downing Street after receiving help from the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Ernest Gibson, and Mayoress Patricia Ridley.
The visit to London is due to be made exactly a year to the day since Miley’s death, on November 12 last year.
Ms Eckert, from Westmorland Road, South Shields, said: “When we first started the campaign, I never imagined it would become as big as it has been. The support we have received has been overwhelming.
“Having the chance to go to London and present our petition to Downing Street is something I never thought would happen.
“But thanks to the Mayor, it has become a reality. He has supported this campaign from the start and has been fantastic.
“We couldn’t have asked for more from him.
“Delivering the petition will be emotional as it will be a year since she died, but knowing how much this campaign has achieved brings me some comfort by knowing her death hasn’t been in vain.
“I just hope what we have done will make those in power look at introducing a presumed consent system – unless they opt out – in England, like they have in Wales.
“In this day and age, people shouldn’t be dying because they are waiting for an organ.”
Coun Gibson said: “In Miley’s Memory has been a fantastic campaign and one both myself and Patricia have only been too pleased to help and support.
“I’ve met Sharon a number of times and she has told me how the campaign has been emotionally difficult at times but it was important to her to carry on.
“The number of people signing up to the organ donation register in South Tyneside since the campaign started has been incredible.
“From day one, you couldn’t fail to see the determination Sharon had in making In Miley’s Memory campaign a success and everyone who knows her and who has been part of this campaign should be proud of what has been achieved.
“I’m absolutely delighted for her that she is now being able to deliver her petition to Downing Street.”