GAZETTE readers signed up in their thousands to ensure a campaign in a brave little girl’s memory was a success. Today we’re asking for your help again.
More than 2,000 people joined the organ donor register as a result of our In Miley’s Memory campaign.
It was sparked by the tragic story of baby Miley Turbitt’s fight for life, and touched the hearts of our readers.
The 14-week-old suffered from a severe form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and was in need of a donor heart if she was to have any chance of survival.
Confined to hospital, medics launched a desperate Europe-wide search for a replacement heart for Miley, as her mum Sharon Eckert and family waited in hope.
Sadly, a suitable donor organ was not found in time, and battling Miley finally gave up her fight for life on November 12, 2012.
Desperate not to let her daughter’s death be in vain, Sharon joined forces with the Gazette to launch In Miley’s Memory three months later.
Its aims were twofold – to get more people signed up to be organ donors, and to call for a change in the law – to make everyone an automatic donor unless they choose to opt out.
It was a campaign the people of South Tyneside took to their hearts. Businesses and individuals stepped forward to offer their help to encourage people to sign up to become organ donors.
Miley’s grandmother, Margaret Eckert, who supported her daughter throughout the campaign, said: “We always thought Miley would get a heart. We never for one moment thought she wouldn’t. She struggled so hard all her short life.
“Being in that position, we experienced two sides – one was we were waiting for a heart, and the other thinking if we ourselves, could give Miley’s heart to someone if we had to – it was so hard.
“When Sharon decided to launch In Miley’s Memory, at first I thought it might be too soon, but then no one should have to go through this, and it was important for people to be aware of the organ donor register and to sign up to it.
“For us, Miley’s campaign was so important. It’s like she is still here with us, and she is helping to save lives, and brought so many people together and putting names on that register.
“If it wasn’t for the paper, the Gazette, getting behind the campaign, there would have been no campaign.
“It’s just amazing what they did in helping to get it out there to a lot more people.
“It has definitely made a difference to people’s lives, and we wouldn’t have got as far as we did if it wasn’t for the paper.
“For Miley being a tiny baby and here for such a short time, she has done so much, and we couldn’t be more proud of our Miley.”
High-profile supporters of the campaign included X Factor champion Joe McElderry and world and Paralympic gold medal swimmer Josef Craig.
The campaign, also backed by the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Ernest Gibson, and Mayoress Patricia Ridley, saw the Gazette join Sharon and her family as they travelled to Downing Street in London on the first anniversary of Miley’s death to hand over the petition calling for a change in the organ donation system.
In Miley’s Memory ran from February to December last year, and saw an extra 2,070 people in South Tyneside sign up to become organ donors.
The families of South Tynesiders who had given vital organs after death to help others also came forward to tell their poignant stories and raise awareness of the campaign.
Support also came from the business community.
Now, we’re asking you to sign up again - to ensure our In Miley’s Memory campaign is voted the best in the UK.
As part of Local Newspaper Week, 30 of the strongest newspaper campaigns in the country have been shortlisted as part of the Making A Difference Initiative.
From today until Wednesday, an online vote will be running, giving readers the chance to vote for campaigns they feel made a real impact in their community.
Among them is our In Miley’s Memory campaign. To vote for us visit the Local Newspaper Week website via this link and vote for the Gazette.
Local Newspaper Week is an annual initiative run by the local newspaper industry and the Newspaper Society to highlight the important role played by local papers in their communities.
The winning campaign will be announced on Friday.