MUCH-loved father Gary Robertson was and always will be a hero in the eyes of his family.
But after his death last March, a decision to donate his organs made him a lifesaver to people he’d never met.
The dad-of-three, who worked as a care assistant for Connolly House Residential Care in Whiteleas, South Shields, was already a registered organ donor before he died, on his 39th birthday, after a brain aneurism.
And that selfless decision has given at least four people the gift of life – a thought that brings comfort to his widow Emma and his children, Caitlin, nine, Ben, eight, and Joe, two.
Now his family are urging people to back a new campaign launched by the family of Miley Turbitt to raise the number of people on the organ donation register.
In Miley’s Memory – supported by the Gazette – has been launched in memory of the 14-week-old, who died when a heart donor was not found, despite a European-wide search.
Her family are hoping her story will encourage others to sign up to the organ donation register.
They are also campaigning for a change in the organ donation system, from the present one, under which people must indicate their willingness to donate organs after death, to one in which organs are automatically available unless the person has opted out.
Mrs Robertson, 34, from Hebburn, who today gave her support to the In Miley’s Memory campaign, said: “When Gary died I approached the doctors. It was such a hard thing to do, but I knew Gary had been registered as a donor for years and I wanted to carry out his wishes.
“I received a letter from the man who was given Gary’s heart, and he told me how he is now able to take his son to school.
“It was devastating to read and it did break my heart, as that will never happen for my two-year-old.
“But I couldn’t stop losing Gary, and knowing he has helped save people’s lives has brought me some comfort.
“I was so proud of the decision he made to become an organ donor.
“What Miley’s family are doing is brilliant – there needs to be more awareness of organ donation.”
n Copies of the In Miley’s Memory petition forms asking for a change are available to download from our website. Completed forms should be handed in to the Gazette office in Chapter Row by March 28.
To sign up to the organ donation register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or phone 0300 123 23 23.