Family of coma teen Aaron Strong to donate organs to save other lives
In a final act of generosity and kindness, a heartbroken mother has granted permission for her teenage son's organs to be donated to save other people's lives.
Annmarie Strong will allow doctors to perform the operation on her son Aaron, who has been in a coma and on life support since the weekend.
Doctors and the family plan to turn off his life support today, and say the donation could save up to nine other people's lives.
Aaron (18) was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital at the weekend having accidentally overdosed on prescription and street drugs he had taken at a friend's house.
He was due to start a new job on Tuesday as a joiner in Bournemouth and would have celebrated his birthday next Monday with twin brother Ryan, who is devastated at his loss.
A keen mechanic, Aaron, from Ballymurphy in west Belfast, was talented with engines and "could take anything apart and rebuild it".
Family and friends of the former Corpus Christi College pupil described Aaron as "kind-hearted and easygoing" and "someone who would do anything for anyone".
"He was always taking things apart, the remote control, motorbikes, engines, anything like that just so he could fix it again," Ms Strong said. "He loved motorbikes. He was always bringing them home, then fixing them up to sell on.
"And he loved kids, he really loved all the kids in the family especially my wee granddaughter Cora.
"He was a very loving person, so he was great with kids.
"Aaron was a lovable kid himself, he never brought any trouble home, none of my sons did.
"He was always really helpful, out with his strimmer cutting grass, everyone knew him and everyone liked him.
"He loved music and there'd be times when I shout up to tell him to turn it down because he had it blaring.
"Or I'd go on at him to do something and have to tell him 20 times. He was very laid-back like that, very easygoing - nothing really bothered him."
Ms Strong, a mother-of-four, said the tragedy had made her feel like her "world has collapsed" and the pain of losing him had left her so bereft she was unsure if she could go on without him.
"I have four kids which I raised on my own, I gave them everything I could," Ms Strong added.
"My kids are my world: I love each one of my sons with my whole heart, but I never, ever thought I'd lose my son to drugs - he never even smoked.
"These drug dealers should be wiped off the face of the Earth - selling dirt to our kids, they're murdering our kids, I am absolutely fuming.
"But I know Aaron is now with my parents, his granny Rebecca and granda Emmanuel, who he just loved, he's with his nanny Eileen too.
"They will have gladly met him with their arms out receiving him to Heaven.
"My God, it's broken the chain of the family, it's completely broken without him, we are all devastated, it's all so sudden.
"I can't see myself living without him, I can't.
"How can I go on? I can't without him.
"He was my child - my son who I love. I feel like I have been completely robbed."
Although heartbroken, the Strong family say they are pleased that Aaron's organs will go on to save other lives as something positive has come out of the horror.
They added that it would have delighted Aaron to know that his death was not in vain that he his final gesture was to help others.
"Aaron was a very giving person, very, very giving," Ms Strong said. "He would have given someone before himself, he was always like that. Anything he could do to help you out, he would.
"I don't know how I managed to even tell the doctors to donate his organs, it just came out, something was in me to say it, but we are pleased that it will help other people. That's what Aaron would have wanted and he would have been pleased to have helped someone else."
Cousin Amy Strong added: "Aaron had the biggest heart of gold, he really did, he would have done anything for anyone."
The family also thanked the hundreds of people who have sent messages and cards of support, prayed for Aaron and lit candles as a vigil.