FAMILIES of loved ones who gave the gift of life to others have been honoured.
Sarah Jane Burke, 17, was killed when taxi driver David Baillie knocked her down in Ormonde Street, Sunderland, in September last year.
He is now serving a seven year sentence and has been banned from the roads after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
Her organs helped five others survive, with her parents Stephen and Theresa, both 50, following through with her wishes after she and sister Melisa, 21, signed up to the register years earlier online.
Melisa collected an award in her sister’s name from the Order of St John award for Organ Donation, run in conjunction with NHS Blood and Transplant.
She was accompanied by Sharon McMahon, whose son Dean, 33, died four days after suffering a head injury from a fall in Carlisle Terrace in Southwick in February.
Although Dean had problems with alcohol, his liver has saved the life of a woman who needed a new organ within 72 hours, and two others were helped with his kidney.
Sharon, who is a mum to seven children, said: “I had to make my mind up pretty quickly.
“But then it didn’t take me long because I had lost my son and I didn’t want to think someone else would be facing the same.
“I thought if somebody can live on, why not, and I think that’s what Dean would have wanted.”
Sharon, 51, has since received a note of thanks from the liver recipient, and encouraged her whole family to sign up to the organ donation register.
Allyson Makin, also from Sunderland, received an award in her husband Anthony’s name. The self-employed radiator repairman of Southwick fell over and hit his head on a night out, leaving his loved ones with the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life support machine.
In addition to Allyson, he left daughter Jennifer Dawson, 39, and sons Anthony, 33, and Jacque, 25.
Allyson, 59, said: “My husband had said that when he saw kids on TV who needed organs, he would donate, and since he died, I’ve signed up as a donor and we want somebody to be helped.”
An award ceremony for the families was held in Newcastle and presented by the city’s Lord Mayor, Coun George Pattison.
Ian Mackenzie, chairman of the local County Priory Group of the Order of St John, said: “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.”
To join the register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 2323 or text SAVE to 62323.