Little 'Superhero' Erin's selfless decision gave gift of life to four people
The family of a little girl who saved four lives after her death have urged people to talk to their loved ones about organ donation.
In a poignant letter, the Bonar family said when five-year-old Erin passed away suddenly earlier this year, the tragedy was eased as their daughter had already told them she wanted to be a donor "to save other children".
The letter from her parents Susan and Karl, big brother Jack and twin brother Rhys, was read during an event at Parliament Buildings yesterday to launch the second Organ Donor Donation Discussion Day on Friday.
The family said when they were asked about donating Erin's organs it was an "easy question to answer" - they had already discussed it with Erin after she had watched a television appeal.
"Erin always wanted to help others as much as she could and one evening, when a TV advert came on talking about organ donation she asked what it was about," the Bonars said in the letter read out on their behalf by specialist organ donation nurse Monica Hackett.
"We explained, she listened, then said: 'If something ever happens to me I would give my whole body to help other children'. She was sure! We never thought any more about it until we were faced with that decision only months later."
The P1 pupil died from a cerebral oedema - a swelling of the brain - after contracting an infection in March.
The Co Antrim family, who described her as "a real life superhero", said: "In the midst of our grief and dread of how to tell her brothers and the rest of the family, we were asked the question by the consultant at the hospital if we would consider donating her organs.
"It was a very easy question to answer, there was no doubt, only because we had already had the conversation. At only five years old we knew it was Erin's wish, and the answer was yes.
"The answer would still probably have been yes had we not had that conversation, but it took away any uncertainty that we were doing the right thing by her at the most harrowing time in our lives."
The Organ Donor Donation Discussion campaign urges people to discuss their views on organ donation with their family.
Erin's heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and pancreas were donated to save the lives of four people - three young boys and a man in his 40s.
"It gives us enormous comfort her little life was not in vain. We now know that her heart still beats in a small boy somewhere and that makes us smile a little as, having two brothers herself, Erin always wanted to be a boy anyway!
"We miss her every single minute of every single day; because of her kindness other families will not suffer the same heartache."
Also at the event was inspirational Ballycastle teenager Lucia Quinney-Mee, who had three liver transplants before she was 16.
"I think I would just say there are so many positive things come out of it - something that can be a very sad time. It gave me not just one, but three chances to live life to the full," she said.
Around 200 people are on the transplant waiting list in Northern Ireland.