A ‘KIND and loving’ youngster who died from a brain tumour has brought hope out of tragedy after giving the gift of life to three other children.
Brave Jack Leggett, nine, lost his battle with the condition in the early hours of Sunday – just two months after being diagnosed.
His grieving parents, Alfie Leggett, 45, and Susan Clarkson, 47, of Primrose Avenue, West Harton, South Shields, say they are taking comfort from the fact Jack’s memory will live on after his donated organs saved the lives of three seriously-ill youngsters.
Mrs Clarkson, a cleaner at Holy Trinity School, where Jack was a pupil, said: “He was a kind, loving, generous and considerate little boy.
“He would give you his last penny.”
Mr Leggett, a postman, added: “We were asked if he would want to donate organs, and we didn’t hesitate.”
Yesterday, the family got a call to say Jack’s lungs had saved the life of another nine-year-old child.
Mr Leggett added: “That is a fitting tribute to Jack.
“It is a comfort to us that other children and parents won’t have to go through the same thing because of this organ donation.”
Jack’s kidney and liver were used in other transplants.
Mrs Clarkson added: “Jack was the sturdy backbone for his brothers. He would always stand up for them.”
Jack’s illness was discovered in October, when he had appeared to be suffering the same sickness virus as his brothers, twins James and Thomas, 11, but his parents became concerned as he was unsteady on his feet.
His parents took him to South Tyneside District Hospital and doctors then referred him to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary for further tests.
Within 24 hours their life changed forever, as the couple were told Jack was suffering from an aggressive brain tumour, which was inoperable.
Mr Leggett added: “He never moaned and complained.
“You just ask yourself why it happens to a nine-year-old child.
“He wasn’t given a proper chance at life.”
After being diagnosed on October 17, Jack underwent radiotherapy at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, five days a week for six weeks, as well as having weekly appointments at the RVI.
Jack was found unconscious by his mother at about 12.40am on Sunday and was rushed to South Tyneside District Hospital, before again being transferred to the RVI.
His parents had to make the heartbreaking decision to switch off his life support machine when doctors made it clear he couldn’t be saved.
Mrs Clarkson added: “Christmas was dreadful.
“The children came down and didn’t know whether to open their presents or not.
“They have been staying strong for us and we have been trying to stay strong for them.”
Jack’s funeral will be held at South Shields Crematorium at 11.30am on Tuesday, December 31.
The family want it to be a celebration of a young life.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to CLIC Sargent, a children’s charity that funds research and supports families of those suffering from cancers and tumours.
Mourners – including school pals from Holy Trinity – will all wear something green, Jack’s favourite colour while his coffin will be adorned by artwork of his superhero favourite Batman.
Jack’s older brother, Ryan Clarkson, 20, has already begun raising cash for CLIC Sargent by taking part in the Boxing Day Dip in South Shields.
JACK Leggett’s family want his funeral service to provide support for a national charity that works with sick children.
His funeral on Tuesday will see donations collected for CLIC Sargent.
CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people.
The charity provides clinical, practical, financial and emotional support to help sufferers and families cope with cancer and get the most out of life.
Jack’s father, Alfie Leggett, said the charity was an obvious choice to support, as his son always put the wellbeing of others first.
He said: “It is a charity that does a lot of good work for children. We want everyone to come along and give donations.”
Jack’s brother, Ryan Clarkson, aged 20, has already taken part the Boxing Day dip at South Shields to raise cash for the charity.
A donation box will be provided at the service at South Shields Crematorium.
CLIC Sargent was formed in 2005 by a merger of CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood), set up in 1976 by Bob Woodward after his young son was diagnosed with cancer before losing his life to the condition aged 11, and Sargent Cancer Care for Children, launched in 1968 as a tribute to the memory of nationally-known orchestra conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent.
For more information on the work of the charity and to find out how to make a donation, log onto www.clicsargent.org.uk