Parents of South Shields schoolboy hero back calls for more children to sign donor register

Jack Leggett
Jack Leggett

The parents of a South Tyneside schoolboy who bravely allowed their son’s organs to be used to help give the gift of life, are encouraging others to become organ donors.

This week, NHS Blood and Transplant is urging people to not only sign up to the register but to also sign their children up too.

Jack was such a selfless child, he always liked to help people, he was such a loving person and it’s exactly what he would have wanted.

Susan Clarkson

The call comes as part of Organ Donation Week which runs until the weekend and aims to boost the number of organ donors, in particular those under the age of 17.

In the last three years, 46 children have died on the transplant waiting list. Of these, 30 were waiting for a heart or lung transplant, due to a lack of child donors.

Statistics, released by NHS Blood and Transplant for Organ Donation Week, shows only 48% of families supported donation for a relative aged 17 and under last year. That compares to an average of 66% families agreeing for relatives of all ages. The figures have also remained largely static, despite the overall increase in organ donation.

Susan Clarkson and her partner Alfie Leggett, were left heartbroken when their young son Jack, nine, died, just a few days before Christmas in 2013, as a result of a brain tumour.

Despite their grief, when doctors asked if they would consider donating Jack’s organs, the couple, from Primrose Avenue, South Shields, didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Miss Clarkson, said: “When they came into the room and asked if we would consider donating his organs, we just looked at each other and said yes.

“They said they would give us some time to think about it, but we didn’t need to. It wasn’t a hard decision to make at all.

“It wasn’t something I’d thought about or we’d talked about. And I certainly didn’t expect myself to say yes, but when the time came, I did, because when they asked us, I was speaking for Jack.

“Jack was such a selfless child, he always liked to help people, he was such a loving person and it’s exactly what he would have wanted.

“His lungs went to a nine-year-old boy. The little boy was able to start breathing for himself again on Christmas Day.

“You can’t explain how much that means to us, to know a part of our Jack is continuing to live on and he has given the gift of life to others - it just makes you feel so proud.

After Jack died, his older brothers James and Thomas, registered as organ donors.

Susan added: “The pain you feel when you lose a child is unimaginable, but if I had to make the decision again, I would do it in a heartbeat.”

To become a donor visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk