Organ donor Nikki Elliott from Derby posthumously awarded Order of St John

image copyrightFamily photo
image captionNikki Elliott, from Derby, was posthumously awarded the Order of St John

A woman whose organs have helped to save six lives has been given a posthumous award.

Nikki Elliott, who died in January, aged 42, was given the Order of St John Award on Wednesday.

Her ex-husband John said the fact she saved the lives was a "small comfort" to him and her two teenage sons.

The award is presented to families of people who have saved and improved people's lives through organ donation.

Who received donated organs?

  • Mrs Elliott's heart was transplanted into a teenage girl who was suffering from cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle
  • One of her kidneys and her pancreas were transplanted into a diabetic woman who had kidney failure
  • The second kidney was given to a man in his 30s who had been waiting for a transplant for more than a year
  • A lung was given to a man in his 60s with pulmonary fibrosis
  • A man in his 50s with emphysema received the other lung
  • The liver was given to a man in his 60s
  • Two of her blood vessels have been donated and are being stored

Mr Elliott said the family, from Littleover, Derby, had received thank-you letters from relatives of people she had saved, including one from a mother whose daughter had a heart transplant.

"They're handwritten and so moving you have to read them quietly when you're on your own," he said.

"Initially you don't comprehend it, but then you see the letter from the woman whose teenage daughter was saved and you see friends with teenage daughters and that tells you why you carry a donor card.

"People say it's comfort, but it's small comfort because the loss is huge, particularly for the boys."

'Inspirational bravery'

He said he ex-wife had carried a donor card in her handbag.

It was down to her eldest son, Matthew, then 18, to make the decision to donate her organs "within minutes" of being told of her death, Mr Elliott said.

"Without a donor card, if you don't know what the wishes are it just makes it so much more difficult," he said.

Mrs Elliott's younger son Thomas, 14, accepted the award on his mother's behalf at a ceremony in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, alongside other families whose loved ones had saved lives through donation.

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "We hope their bravery will inspire others to talk about their own wishes with people close to them and record their intention to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Register."

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