Campaigning South Shields mum welcomes organ donor change

A South Tyneside mum who campaigned to raise awareness of organ donation after the death of her baby girl has welcomed an “opt-out” system being introduced for England.

By Lisa Nightingale
Tuesday, 26 February, 2019, 16:17
In Miley's Memory campaign

Little Miley Turbitt was only 14-weeks-old when she lost her battle for life in November 2012, as she waited for a donor heart to be found.

Following her death, her mum Sharon Eckert, bravely launched the Shields Gazette-backed In Miley’s Memory campaign, to raise awareness of organ donation and call for the opt-out system to be introduced.

Baby Miley Turbitt.

Her fight led to more than 2,500 people in South Tyneside signing up to the donor register and a petition calling for England to adopt the opt-out system being handed into Downing Street.

Miley’s family were just one of a number who raised the issue over the years.

England is now to bring in the donor opt-out system by 2020 after the rule change cleared its final Parliamentary hurdle.

The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill, which received an unopposed third reading in the House of Lords, now goes forward for Royal Assent and mean people will be presumed in favour of allowing their organs to be donated - unless they opt out by registering their opposition.

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Miley campaign petition hand over at Downing Street. Sharon Eckert outside number 10

Sharon said: “That’s great news it’s a very welcome change for organ donation.

“I feel like we helped change it for Miley. It’s her legacy and she didn’t die in vain. It’s a comfort.”

Under the backbench legislation, which applies only to England, adults will be presumed to be organ donors unless they have specifically recorded their decision not to be.

The move, which the Government estimates will save hundreds of lives each year, will replace the existing voluntary opt-in scheme.

The legislation has become known as Max and Keira’s Law after a boy who received a heart transplant and the girl who donated it, and Lord Hunt paid tribute to both youngsters.

Geoffrey Robinson MP, who introduced the legislation said: “I am convinced that the passing of this Bill will lead to many more organ donations and lives saved, whilst retaining the involvement of the family in what will remain a remarkably altruistic act of giving.”