Craig’s death was not in vain

Craig McCook signed up to the organ donor register - and has helped five people so.
Craig McCook signed up to the organ donor register - and has helped five people so.

A mother says she is “very proud” that her son - who was tragically killed in a road traffic collision in Coleraine last year - donated his organs to give others the chance of life.

Liscolman mum Alexia McCook said son Craig’s selfless decision to become an organ donor had not only helped those in desperate need for organs but had provided some comfort to her own family following their devastating loss.

Craig's parents say they are "very, very proud of him" that he became an organ donor.

Craig's parents say they are "very, very proud of him" that he became an organ donor.

19-year-old Craig McCook was in intensive care at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for 12 days after the road crash on Coleraine’s Strand Road which eventually claimed his life.

A car enthusiast, Craig had signed up to the organ donor register when he had got his provisional driving licence and his parents, Alexia and well-known Ballymoney postman Jeremy McCook, knew how important that was to him.

“We decided to go ahead and honour his wishes and have six of his organs donated,” said Alexia.

“By doing so it would give someone else a chance to live and also help us deal with the pain of losing Craig.

Craig's family receive the Order of St John Award from Dame Mary Peters, second from right. Included are Jeremy and Alexia McCook,  Jean McCook and Dianne McCook.

Craig's family receive the Order of St John Award from Dame Mary Peters, second from right. Included are Jeremy and Alexia McCook, Jean McCook and Dianne McCook.

“We are very, very proud of him.”

Alexia said that real solace has been drawn from updates provided by Organ Donation NI about how Craig’s organs have helped those in desperate need.

“We get follow ups about who have been helped and it gives other families hope and those waiting on organs their life back.

“For us it means that Craig’s death was not for nothing.”

Alexia revealed how:

* One of Craig’s heart valves had helped a three-year-old;

* A man in his 60s from Newcastle in England, who had been waiting on a transplant for ten months, had received Craig’s liver.

* One of Craig’s kidneys had been given to a man in his 20s from Belfast who had been on dialysis for three years and on the organ donor waiting list for two years.

* Craig’s other kidney and pancreas had gone to a man in his 20s at Guys Hospital in London. He also had been going through dialysis and was no longer a diabetic because of the new organs.

Alexis explained: “It gives the grieving family a bit of a link to the other families that have been helped.

“As a family we are proud that Craig has been able to help others in this way.”

Last month the McCook family attended a reception in Belfast Castle where they were honoured with the Order of St John Award in recognition of the contribution that Craig had made to many other lives.

They received - a special commemorative pin - from Dame Mary Peters.

Mrs McCook is encouraging people across the region to follow in Craig’s footsteps and people sign up to the organ donor register.

In Northern Ireland more than 570,000 people have signed the NHS Organ Donor Register. Although almost everyone would accept an organ if they needed one, registrations account for just 34% of the population.

Currently around 200 people in Northern Ireland are on the transplant waiting list and each year around 15 people die waiting for an organ.

The Register is a confidential central database where your details are held if you chose to sign up to be an organ donor.

It lists the organs and/or tissues you want to donate and can be accessed by healthcare professionals so they know your wishes in the event of your death.

For more information visit: www.organdonationni.info