Families of South Shields lifesavers welcome organ donor move

Jack Leggett
Jack Leggett

Two South Tyneside families have welcomed news a Bill set to overhaul the organ donation system has passed its second reading at the House of Commons.

The parents of Gillian Lyon and Jack Leggett have consistently spoken out for the need for more people to be registered as organ donors.

Gillian Lyon

Gillian Lyon

Both families selflessly agreed for their loved ones’ organs to be donated in order to save the lives of others.

Gillian died aged 42 in 2012, following a bleed on the brain. Jack, nine, died of a brain tumour in 2013 after a short battle.

Following news that the Bill which will see presumed consent to people being donors, unless they choose to opt out, has passed its second reading, they hope it won’t be long until it becomes law.

Sandra Burn said: “This is fantastic news. When I heard it, I just started crying.

Once you’re gone, you’re gone, your organs are no good to you but could help save a life.

Alfie Leggett

“I know there is still a long way to go, but we are getting closer.

“When we lost Gillian I would have given anything to keep her alive, but there was nothing we could do.

“So why let someone else’s family go through the pain of losing someone when there is something that can be done? People do need to talk about it more.”

Recent figures from the Department of Health reveal up to three people die each day waiting for an organ.

Jack’s dad Alfie said: “This is a huge step. I just can’t understand why it wasn’t brought in ages ago. Just think of the number of lives that could have been saved.

“Nothing is going to bring Jack back, but to think someone else’s family has not had to go through the pain of losing someone like we have due to Jack, it does give us some comfort.

“Once you’re gone, you’re gone, your organs are no good to you, but could help save a life.”

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn has also given his support to the change, encouraging people to sign up to the Organ Donor Register.

He said: “I’m pleased to support this Bill. This will save lives up and down the country.

“It is truly shocking that up to three people die each day while waiting for an organ to become available and that over 6,500 people are on the organ donor waiting list.

“If this goes ahead, people should be able to opt out as easily as possible if they do not wish to donate their organs at all or certain organs after death.

“Organ donation is a gift and people’s wishes should be respected if they want to opt out.

“The Government must also work with community groups to ensure that cultural and religious views are taken into account before any change is introduced.”

To register to become an organ donor visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.