Northern Ireland

Five-year-old girl told family of organ donor wishes

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Media captionErin Bonar became an organ donor after watching a TV campaign

The mother of a five-year-old girl who died earlier this year has spoken of how her daughter had said she would be willing to be an organ donor.

Susan Bonar, whose daughter Erin died of a sudden illness in March, said it was a great comfort to know that four people had been helped.

"In my most difficult days of missing Erin, that is the one thing that brings me comfort," she said.

Mrs Bonar said Erin had told the family of her wishes after seeing a TV advert.

"We were watching TV together as a family and an advert came on about organ donation," she said.

"Erin asked us what it was all about, so we did our best to explain it to her at the time.

"She just announced that if anything ever happened to her, she would like to give her whole body away to help other children."

Image caption Susan Bonar said she was grateful they had discussed organ donation with Erin

Mrs Bonar, from Ballycarry, County Antrim, said while they were "quite astounded by this revelation", it was not something that they dwelled on.

"She was a healthy and lively little five year old - we didn't think we'd have any reason to suspect something might happen to her, so it's something we put to the back of our minds," she said.

'Happy child'

"Erin was very matter-of-fact and very sure of what she was saying - in fact she was so sure that she repeated it to her granny a couple of days later to let her know that was what she was planning to do."

Mrs Bonar said Erin was a happy and imaginative child "with a serious obsession with Spiderman", who was in the same primary one class as her twin brother Rhys.

She said Erin took ill very suddenly and died, when an infection caused brain swelling.

"Literally on the Friday she was at school playing around, and by the end of the weekend we didn't have her any more - it was so fast and we were left absolutely devastated," she said.

Image copyright Bonar family
Image caption Erin's organs were donated to three children and a man in his 40s

When the hospital consultants asked the family about organ donation, Mrs Bonar said they knew what to do.

"I'm thankful that we had that conversation with Erin because we found out from that terrible experience that it is not the time to make such a decision," she said.

Conversations

"You are too much in shock to make rational decisions like that, so it's important to make the decisions now before anything happens so you know your loved one's wishes and you're absolutely doing the right thing by them as well as others.

"People may think children don't really understand these things - well, Erin definitely did, and it's never too young to start having those conversations."

Image copyright Bonar family
Image caption Five-year-old Erin Bonar died of a sudden illness in March

A day of events are taking place on Friday to encourage discussion about organ donation.

Mrs Bonar said she took great comfort from knowing that donating Erin's organs had helped three young boys and a man in his 40s.

"A little boy received her heart, and that makes us smile a little too because with Erin having two brothers herself, she always wanted to be a little boy anyway so she'd be pleased about that," she said.

"Another boy received her lungs, and I've been told he's doing very well - he's gone back to school.

"It's lovely to know that and it's one of the few comforts we have from losing Erin."

For more information about organ donation visit Organ Donation Northern Ireland.

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