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EXCLUSIVE: Grandfather whose heart saved four babies’ lives is honoured

By Sutton Coldfield Observer  |  Posted: December 25, 2013

  • Jean Noon (centre), daughter Lisa Gibson and granddaughters Keeleigh (far left) and Erin collect the award from Timothy Cox.

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FOUR children – all under the age of 18 months – have been given the greatest gift possible for the new year after the donated heart of a Sutton grandfather was used to save their lives.

Colin Noon, from Banners Gate, made the courageous decision to donate his organs in the event of his death.

Now that multiple life-saving decision has earned him much-deserved recognition after he was posthumously honoured with a new award created by the Order of St John alongside NHS Blood and Transplant.

His brave wife, Jean, collected the award on her husband’s behalf from Paul Sabapathy, Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, and Timothy Cox, Lord-Lieutenant of Warwickshire, at a special presentation ceremony held at Villa Park.

Speaking to the Observer, Jean said: “I feel very proud; Colin was a lovely person and who spent his whole life helping people. I’m even more proud that he’s still helping people and it’s so nice that he’s now getting some sort of recognition.”

The 69-year-old grandmother lost her husband after he suffered a sudden brain haemorrhage last year aged 68, leaving behind his daughter Lisa, son Michael and granddaughters Keeleigh and Erin.

Colin’s heart was divided into four patches which were transplanted into four babies. He also donated his corneas and both kidneys.

Jean, who had been married to Colin for 43 years, said: “He used to carry a donor card years ago. But then his uncle donated his whole body to medical research several years ago and Colin had a lot of admiration for that. So there was no hesitation in donating his organs.”

A retired commercial vehicle builder, Colin had felt unwell following a caravan holiday with his wife over the Easter holidays.

“He was absolutely fine on the drive home from Evesham but then he said he had an upset tummy and felt a bit cold and a bit dizzy,” Jean explained. “I called an ambulance, even though he said he didn’t want any fuss, and he was talking to us on the way to hospital. I said ‘I will see you in a minute’, but that was the last time I spoke to him.

“They took him to intensive care but they said it was inoperable and he sadly died without regaining consciousness.”

Jean and her family were one of more than 30 from across the West Midlands to be presented with the Order of St John Award for Organ Donation.

A former chairman of the British Leyland Camping and Caravan Association who had been connected to the group for nearly 30 years, Colin’s fellow members have since signed up as organ donors following his tragic death.

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From the front page

Reverend John Davis, from the Order of St John, said: “With thousands of people in the UK in need of a transplant, we felt it was important to say thank you to the families whose loved ones have already donated their organs.

“They are an inspiration to all. With around three people dying every day due to the shortage of organs, we hope these families’ pride will encourage many more to follow in their footsteps and agree to become an organ donor.”

Between April 2012 and March 2013, the families of 1,212 people in the UK agreed to donate their loved ones’ organs, saving or transforming thousands of patients’ lives.

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Losing a loved one is devastating to family and friends. We hope receiving this new award will mean a great deal to those who have lost someone close to them and also give them renewed pride in their decision to agree to donation. The decision to donate their organs is an amazing legacy.

“Having a conversation about organ donation is vitally important as we know that making a decision to donate a loved one’s organs is so much easier if you know what their wishes were. We would urge people to have that conversation with people close to them and record their intention to donate on the NHS organ donor register.”

To join, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 2323.

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