Police and ambulance vehicles turn pink to back organ donation campaign, with heart transplant hero Beatrix centre stage

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'Every day we waited for a donor, we wondered if it would be Beatrix's last'

The father of two-year old heart transplant hero, Beatrix Archbold, has pleaded with parents to be willing to consider organ donation to enable other children to “be able to have a future”.

Durham Constabulary Police sergeant Terry Archbold was speaking ahead of the launch of Organ Donation Week with the region’s police forces teaming up with the NHS and the North East Ambulance Service to promote the importance of singing up to declare a willingness to donate your own or a loved one’s organs in the advent of their passing.

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The initiative will see a police motorbike, police car and an NEAS ambulance and response vehicle decorated in pink and driving around the the North East promoting the importance of “confirming your decision”.

Joining the procession of vehicles at the launch event at Durham Cathedral was Beatrix on her electric toy blood donation bike.

Beatrix Archbold, two, with parents Terry and Cheryl and representatives from the police, NHS and North East Ambulance Service.Beatrix Archbold, two, with parents Terry and Cheryl and representatives from the police, NHS and North East Ambulance Service.
Beatrix Archbold, two, with parents Terry and Cheryl and representatives from the police, NHS and North East Ambulance Service. | National World

Terry, 45, said: “There are currently over 250 children waiting for organs, 50 of whom are waiting for hearts. 

“However there are only around 50 paediatric donors a year and so the chances of finding a match are very slim.     

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“Organ donation is absolutely vital as Beatrix wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her donor whose organs also helped to save the lives of other children.”

Terry and his wife Cheryl, who was born and grew up in Sunderland, know from firsthand experience the difficulties of making a decision to donate a child or baby’s organs during the trauma of infant bereavement.

Terry said: “We lost our daughter Isabelle in 2018 when she was stillborn. We were asked to donate her heart for medical research but I was overcome with grief and my initial response was 'no'.

“However Cheryl had read an article a few years previously about the importance of organ donation which had planted that seed of thought in her head and she helped me to process the reasons behind it and we eventually agreed to donate.

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“My message to parents in this situation would be if you would accept a donated organ to save your child, would you be willing if the roles were reversed to give the gift of life to other children?

“Hopefully people are never in this situation but it’s important that people have that awareness and seed of thought as it makes it easier to process if you are ever in that position.

“To lose a child is tragic but it’s such a powerful legacy to enable other children to be able to go home and grow up and have a future.”

Beatrix on her blood donor toy bike.Beatrix on her blood donor toy bike.
Beatrix on her blood donor toy bike. | National World

Beatrix was a happy and healthy baby until the age of 15 months when out of the blue she developed cardiomyopathy - a disease of the heart muscle, where the walls of the heart chambers become stretched, thickened or stiff. 

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After being admitted to Newcastle Freeman Hospital, Beatrix’s heart went into cardiac arrest which she survived but ended up being attached to a Berlin Heart - a mechanical device which replicated the function of her heart.

Terry said: “Eventually in June (2023) we found a donor and Beatrix was operated on straight away. However for 14 months she was in hospital attached to the machine and every day we waited we wondered if it would be her last."

Beatrix with her dad Terry on a police motorbike which is one of four emergency services vehicles promoting the importance of registering for organ donation.Beatrix with her dad Terry on a police motorbike which is one of four emergency services vehicles promoting the importance of registering for organ donation.
Beatrix with her dad Terry on a police motorbike which is one of four emergency services vehicles promoting the importance of registering for organ donation. | National World

Beatrix, now two-and-a-half, will need to take anti organ rejection drugs for the rest of her life, but now has a happy and healthy future ahead.

Terry added: “Maybe one day she will go on to be a doctor or a nurse.”

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Helping to promote the initiative and the importance of organ donation was Specialist Nurse in Organ donation, Rachel Eason.

Rachel said: “One of my roles is to support and facilitate organ donation with loved ones if a relative was to die.

“Organ donation is vital. There are currently over 7,000 people in the UK in need of organ donation, which is the highest in a decade.

“Only one per cent of people who die in the UK are suitable to become a donor and so it’s vital that people confirm that in the event they should pass away that they are willing to donate their organs to potentially save others.

“The easiest way to do this is via the online NHS Organ Donation Register.” 

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