‘Our son Martin didn’t die in vain’

Sue and Nigel Burton  lost their 16-year-old son Martin to an undiagnosed brain condition in 2003. Their decision to donate Martin's organs'saved the lives of a 15-year-old boy who'd been given just hours to live, and a terminally ill young father.
Sue and Nigel Burton lost their 16-year-old son Martin to an undiagnosed brain condition in 2003. Their decision to donate Martin's organs'saved the lives of a 15-year-old boy who'd been given just hours to live, and a terminally ill young father.
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A COUPLE whose teenage son died of a brain condition will speak in Sheffield about the decision to donate his organs – saving two other lives.

Sue and Nigel Burton lost son Martin when, at just 16, he suffered a brain haemorrhage caused by an undiagnosed and rare complication of blood vessels.

They decided to donate his organs, believing that their caring son, who wanted to be a nurse, would have said yes.

The couple will tell their story at the Westfield Health British Transplant Games in Sheffield this year and are backing The Star’s new Gift of Life campaign to sign up 12,000 new organ donors from the region.

Sue, aged 52, said: “The games are an incredible event that provide us with a huge amount of strength and comfort every year.

“It brings donor families like us together with the people who have benefited from a transplant and are now living their lives to the full.

“It demonstrates the value of organ donation, and that’s a really important part of helping donor families to see that their loved ones haven’t died in vain – they’ve given the gift of life to someone else.

“We’ll always miss Martin’s presence, but the pain is softer now and tears less frequent.

“We’ll be taking our story to the games to try to help other donor families find the same peace and strength we have.”

Sue and Martin are now trustees of the Donor Family Network, and travel to the transplant games each year.

Martin was a multi-organ donor, donating his heart, lungs, liver and corneas after his death in 2003.

Sue added: “I knew that agreeing to the donation of his organs would not take our pain away, but it was the right thing to do if I could save another family from going through what we were facing.”

Martin’s heart was given to a 15-year-old boy with just hours to live, and his liver went to Andrew – a young dad with a life-threatening liver condition whose only hope was a transplant.

Andrew has met Martin’s parents, who live in Grantham, Lincolnshire, after they wrote to him.

Sue said: “Within weeks I received a letter back. The first line read, ‘I would love to thank you in person’. It was incredibly emotional reading his story and hearing how well he was doing. We started emailing each other and speaking on the phone, before we eventually met.

“Seeing him standing there and knowing a little piece of my son was inside him was surreal yet wonderful.”

* Have you benefited from organ donation? Email ellen.beardmore@thestar.co.uk

Join the register

* Signing up takes just minutes and can be done online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk, text SAVE to 84118 or by calling 0300 12323 23.

* Joining the register records your agreement to the use of your organs and tissue for transplantation after your death.

* Tell your family. Almost half of donors’ intentions cannot be honoured because families were unaware of their wishes.

Are you an organ donor?

Email: news@thestar.co.uk