He always wanted to be a superhero — and now he is.
Jerome Mone was just six years old when he was fatally injured in a car accident and his parents took the brave decision to donate his organs — saving the lives of four total strangers.
His mum Angela from Co Armagh explained: “I was on the Donor Register from I was about 16.
“I always thought it was a great thing but I never thought I would be touched by it.
“All I have now is an empty room, a grave and some photographs, but I know a part of Jerome is living on. It has kept me going, it is something positive out of all the negative.”
Today, as the Westfield Health British Transplant Games are launched, the Belfast Telegraph is calling on readers to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register so that you too can give the gift of life.
With only 26% of the population here on the Organ Donor Register, the Games are coming to Belfast next August to increase this number and in doing so help save the lives of hundreds of people currently waiting for a transplant.
Eight people in Northern Ireland have died this year waiting for an organ — but when Mrs Mone lost her son she was determined to stop other families suffering such devastating grief.
Five days before Christmas, Jerome and his older brother were travelling to Craigavon Area Hospital to visit her when the car they were travelling in hit black ice.
“My husband Sean got a phone call telling him there had been an accident,” she said.
“He went down to the scene but they wouldn’t let him anywhere near. I was in hospital at the time for an operation and from my bed I could see the |ambulances coming and going and the next thing I saw Sean driving in and parking in a doctor’s space. He got out of the car and ran across the road and was nearly hit by a car, and I just knew something terrible had happened.”
Just moments later, standing in the hospital corridor, a nurse told her that her youngest son was seriously ill.
“We went to see Jerome and he was lying attached to ventilators. He had an orange collar around his neck, there was cotton wool over his eyes but you could see blood coming from them and his ears.
“He was taken for a CT scan. I was praying he would be okay but it came back that he was gone. They decided to send him to the Children’s Ward at the Royal to see if there was anything they could do for him.
“Jerome was very comfortable but we knew there wasn’t going to be a good outcome. We decided to go outside and get some fresh air, but I remember the air didn’t feel fresh at all. It felt like stones hitting my skin.
“When we were walking back in I saw a poster on the wall with a wee girl with lovely curly hair and she was saying that someone she never knew had saved her life. At that moment I said I wanted to donate Jerome’s organs. We went straight to the nurse and told her and she started to cry.”
After tests to verify Jerome was brain dead, efforts began to find suitable recipients.
“It was extra time with him. We got to say goodbye and then they took him off to theatre. The biggest thing was not being able to be there with him when he was dying, even though I knew he was long gone.
“I told one of the nurses beforehand that I wished someone could hold his hand and she did it for me. She told him we loved him and that he wasn’t on his own. They took his organs out and he was gone.
“His heart went to a six-month-old girl called Louise Jane. She is doing extremely well and we have had letters from her family. It’s amazing. I remember Jerome telling me he wanted to be a superhero when he grew up and now he is. He got what he wanted.”
How to sign up
The Belfast Telegraph is calling on its readers to sign up and save lives — with only 26% of the population on the Organ Donor Register, the province is lagging behind many other regions in the UK when it comes to committing to giving one of the greatest gifts possible. To join the NHS Organ Donor Register and help save lives in Northern Ireland, text SAVE to 84118, telephone 0300 123 2323 or log onto www.organdonation.nhs.uk.