Two South Tyneside men have been honoured posthumously for giving the gift of life through organ donation.
Gary Robertson, from Hebburn, and Steve Carr, from South Shields, were given the Order of St John award for organ donation.
Their loved ones collected the prizes in a special ceremony at The Civic Centre in Newcastle.
The award is run in conjunction with NHS Blood and Transplant and is presented to the families and loved ones of those who saved and improved people’s lives through organ donation.
Emma Louise Robertson received the award on behalf of her husband Gary, who died on his 39th birthday, in March 2012, after a brain aneurysm.
The dad-of-three, worked as a care assistant for Connolly House Residential Care in Whiteleas, South Shields.
These families deserve this honour and recognition to mark their loved ones life-saving gifts.Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant
Emma Steel also received the award on behalf of her partner Steve.
Last year, between April 2014 and March 2015, the number of deceased organ donors in the UK dropped for the first time in 11 years.
Despite this fall, the Order of St John honours the 1,282 people in the UK who donated their organs after death, leading to thousands of patients’ lives being saved or transformed.
NHS Blood and Transplant is calling for others to be inspired by this selfless act. Everyone in the UK is urged to discuss organ donation with their families and share their decision about what they would do if called on to donate.
Ian Mackenzie, chair of the local County Priory Group of the Order of St John, said: “We’re delighted to be able to work with NHS Blood and Transplant to run the Organ Donor Awards for a third year. Organ donation can clearly save lives and it is also vitally important to say thank you to the families whose loved ones have already donated their organs to assist others.
“With around three people dying every day due to the shortage of organs, these donors and their families have carried out an inspirational act to help others to live. We hope the example they have set will encourage many more to follow in their footsteps and agree to become an organ donor.”
Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The Order of St John award scheme has been running for the last two years. We have been overwhelmed by the pride and experiences shared by the hundreds of families who have accepted the award on their loved one’s behalf.
“It never ceases to amaze me just how humble people are when you speak to them about having helped to save the lives of patients who were desperately ill.
“These families deserve this honour and recognition to mark their loved ones life-saving gifts. We hope their bravery will inspire others to talk about their own decision with people close to them and record their intention to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Register.”