Award for Kyra McKinley whose organs gave life to others after death
A young Co Tyrone woman who lost her life in a road crash last year has been posthumously honoured for providing a life-saving organ donation.
Kyra McKinley (21) from Omagh died following a two-vehicle collision on Deverney Road in the town on August 18.
Seriously injured, she was flown from the scene to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where she was placed on life support following emergency surgery.
Kyra died as a result of her injuries in intensive care three days later surrounded by her family.
The attendance of Air Ambulance NI (AANI) at the crash scene allowed Kyra's quick transit to hospital and meant that her organs could subsequently be donated to save other lives.
Kyra's parents, Raymond (52) and Valerie (48), sister Alex (25) and brother Glenn (19) have now received the Order of St John Award for Organ Donation on her behalf which was presented at a moving ceremony at Belfast Castle on Tuesday.
The award memento features the organ donation heart logo backed by the Maltese Cross - which is used by the Order of St John - above the words 'add life, give hope'.
Valerie told the Belfast Telegraph the family were "incredibly proud" to have been able to receive the award recognising the final gift that her daughter gave to others through her organ donation.
"It was a day of mixed emotions but we were honoured to have been able to receive this award on Kyra's behalf," she said.
"Kyra donated her kidneys, lungs and liver and was able to help four people.
"Although Kyra is no longer here, it is a comfort to know that she has been able to change the lives of others and we know that this is what she would have wanted.
"It was something we discussed as a family when each of us were applying for or renewing our driving licences and we are all on the register.
"I'm very much of the view that if you would be willing to be an organ recipient, you should be willing to be a donor."
Over the past nine months since Kyra's death, the McKinley's have been fundraising on behalf of AANI.
They have also set up a Facebook page 'WWKD: What Would Kyra Do?' with details of all their upcoming fundraising events.
So far they have raised over £60,000 to help cover the £5,500 daily cost of the vital service which takes £2m a year to run.
"We are so thankful to the Air Ambulance without whom Kyra's organ donation could not have taken place," Valerie added.
"The consultant and paramedics on board meant Kyra was given expert treatment at the crash scene.
"While she had sustained a head injury, her organs remained functioning and could be donated to give the gift of life to others."
Around 6,000 people across the UK are currently awaiting a transplant - approximately 150 of whom are from Northern Ireland. On average three people in the UK die every day because of a shortage of organ donors.
If someone dies in circumstances where they can donate their organs, their family would be approached about organ donation.
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register and help save lives, go to organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.