SHOPPERS at a South Tyneside supermarket have given their support to a lifesaving campaign in memory of a baby who died while waiting for a new heart.
It has been less than three months since 14-week-old Miley Turbitt died as a desperate search for a heart donor went on across Europe.,
Miley’s mum, Sharon Eckert spent a day in Asda’s Boldon store, raising awareness of organ donation and encouraging dozens of customers to sign a petition calling for a change to the present system.
The 38-year-old is asking for donations to be made automatic unless people choose to opt out.
Wearing T-shirts bearing our In Miley’s Memory campaign logo, Ms Eckert led a team of family and friends to promote the issue of organ donation.
Throughout the day, people stopped to chat to the mum and praise her courage for launching the Gazette-backed campaign in memory of her daughter.
Ms Eckert, of Westmorland Road, South Shields said: “I was really nervous when I first went in as I wasn’t sure how people would react to the campaign.
“But I couldn’t have wished for a better response.
“The support we received from customers was fantastic – we didn’t think we would get so many signatures in one day. We even had about 30 people sign up to the organ donation register there and then.
“The day really couldn’t have gone any better for me. It really lifted me up seeing how much people are supporting the campaign.”
Almost £300 was also raised for the paediatric intensive care unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, where doctors cared for Miley.
During the day, Ms Eckert was joined by the widow of Gary Robertson.
The 39-year-old father gave the gift of life to four people following his death last March after his organs were donated.
Emma Robertson, 34, of Hebburn, joined Sharon to help raise awareness of organ donation and how it can save lives.
The mum of three said: “There were a lot of people at Asda who were very supportive about what we were trying to achieve, but there were a lot of people who had a hint of ignorance about them. They seemed to be quite happy to accept an organ but wouldn’t entertain donating an organ.
“I think the campaign is amazing, and I think more people should be signing the donation register and also signing the petition so the system can change.
“They are already looking at it in Scotland and Wales and I would hate for it to become a postcode lottery.”
Ernest Gibson, chairman of South Tyneside Council’s people’s select committee, also visited Asda to offer his support to the family.
Coun Gibson said: “It was hard, when hearing about Miley, not to want to support the campaign.
“I have already said I would raise it at the forthcoming select committee, but when I found out about the family coming down to Asda, I wanted to be there myself, not only as a show of support but also to gauge opinion on what people think about organ donation.
“The response was a positive one in that the majority of people who stopped to speak to the team were in favour of organ donation.”
Tracey Tough, community life champion at the store, said: “When we heard about Miley’s campaign, we were only too happy to come on board to help and give our support.
“I’m really pleased Sharon has found spending time in the store worthwhile ,and hope it goes a long way in helping her achieve her goal.”