A schoolgirl victim of meningitis has helped to save the lives of four other children after being inspired by the campaign to save Sally Slater , a seven-year-old heart transplant patient.
Natalie Brown, aged 12, of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, died on Wednesday 3rd January 2001, within 24 hours of being struck down by meningitis B. But because a few months earlier she had followed Sally Slaters struggle, her parents donated her organs. At the time she told her father, Billie, 49, that if she died before him he should ensure her organs were given to others.
Mr Brown said: “She has got what she wanted. It relieves the pain a little to know that some of her is still walking around.” Mr Brown recalled how the youngest of his four daughters could not comprehend why there was no automatic process by which organs were made available to patients who needed them. “Natalie thought people should not have to give permission and that doctors should just be able to do it.”
Natalie was vaccinated against meningitis C last year. Her parents initially attributed a bout of vomiting to the amount of chocolate she had eaten over Christmas and New Year. But on January 3 she had a seizure.
Mr Brown said his daughter’s heart and lungs had gone to a patient in the south of England. Other parts of her body have also been used to help others. Mr Brown added: “We have been told she has helped four youngsters, and that two are well on the road to recovery. As far as we are concerned Natalie is still alive, but in other people. The knowledge will help us come to terms with losing her.”
Sally Slaters mother, Bridget, 36, of Kirkby Malham, North Yorkshire, said she planned to write to Natalie’s family. Mrs Slater, whose daughter was two hours from death when she received her new heart, added: “We must commend Natalie’s bravery.
“People should take stock of what this young girl has done and follow suit.”
This is Steven Tibbey my heart donor
This is me (John Fisher) 7 days post heart transplant standing by my bed
“As you might imagine, my donor and his family have been in my thoughts daily.
Although I am eternally appreciative of my new lease of life, my gratitude has been overshadowed by my heartfelt sorrow for his family and their loss.
I have accepted my gift with great responsibility and with the hope that I can make a positive difference in someone else’s life like my donor has done for me.”
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