A bereaved mother from Grantham has been shortlisted for the Lorraine Kelly Inspirational Woman of the Year Award, after being nominated by the mother of the boy who received her son’s heart.
Sue Burton was shocked but delighted to be put up for the award, and hopes to use it as an opportunity to raise the profile of the two charities she is involved with – the Donor Family Network and The Compassionate Friends.
She became involved with these charities after she and her husband, Nigel, lost their son, Martin. He died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage in 2003, at the age of 16.
Sue, 56, said: “Sadly, one night he collapsed at home and went into a very deep coma. He never came out of that coma.”
Martin was rushed to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham and taken straight into theatre, where doctors discovered a massive brain haemorrhage.
“It was a congenital brain haemorrhage which we knew nothing about,” said Sue. “The bleed was so big there was nothing they could do.
I am absolutely honoured to be nominated me for the awardSue Burton
“That’s when we were asked, would we consider organ donation. As a family we had not discussed it. I knew my wishes and Nigel knew his wishes, but that was it.
“It was the biggest decision we have ever had to make, but I knew it was the right one.”
Martin saved two lives and enhanced those of numerous others.
One of those whose life was saved was Marc, who was 15 years old at the time. He had been given just hours to live.
It is his mother, Linda, who put Sue forward for the Lorraine Kelly Inspirational Woman of the Year Award.
Sue said: “I am absolutely honoured that she has nominated me for the award but I’m gobsmacked that she’s taken the time to do so and wanted recognition for the work I do for the charities.
“We’ve only met them twice, although we’ve been in touch for some time on Facebook. She’s a lovely, lovely person.”
The families found each other purely by chance. Sue was asked on to BBC programme The Big Questions, as a trustee for the Donor Family Network. During the show, pictures of the family were shown on screen and Linda, who lives in Scotland, recognised their faces, having seen a photograph of Martin following the organ donation. Linda then did a little investigative work and finally found Sue on Facebook.
Then in the spring of last year, the Burtons were invited on a trip to the Rocky Mountains in Canada as part of a scheme which sees donor and recipient families come together. That is where they met for the very first time.
“Linda said ‘we’ve been wating 12 years to say thank you’,” said Sue. “For the recipients, it’s something they crave doing because they just want to say ‘thank you’ and they feel to write a letter is not enough. They just want to give someone a hug. But they don’t often get that chance.”
The families’ story will be told on ITV’s Lorraine show today (Tuesday). Not only will Sue be sat on the sofa to chat with Lorraine Kelly, footage shot at her home in Orchard Close will also be shown, as well as some shot in Scotland at Linda’s home.
And Sue will find out whether she is the 2015 Inspirational Woman of the Year at a special lunch on Monday, in front of 450 people and TV cameras. Sue said she’s most nervous about meeting any celebrities at the event, saying: “Coming from this background in little sleepy Grantham you’re not used to celebrity!”
Although she would be pleased to win, Sue believes that all three women are in the running because they have achieved something remarkable, and feels “we’re all winners”.
She added: “It will be an amazing experience, whatever the outcome.”
* Sue is a trustee for The Donor Family Network, a charity which encourages people to discuss their wishes regarding organ donation with their families.
* The Compassionate Friends offers peer-to-peer support to parents who have lost a child. Sue runs a monthly support group for bereaved parents from her home, and is also a member of the charity’s telephone helpline team, answering calls from parents who are struggling with the enormous grief that follows the death of a child. Any parents wishing to find out more can call Sue on 01476 571590 or email firstname.lastname@example.org