‘Sunshine little boy’ posthumously honoured at moving award ceremony - The Rugby Observer

‘Sunshine little boy’ posthumously honoured at moving award ceremony

Rugby Editorial 20th Sep, 2023   0

A ‘SUNSHINE little boy’ from Rugby whose organ donations have saved a life has been posthumously honoured at a moving award ceremony.

When two-year-old Barnaby ‘Barney’ Smith tragically died of meningitis last year, his parents Ali and Sam decided to honour his generous nature by donating his organs.

Now they have accepted an Order of St John Award for Organ Donation on Barney’s behalf, after his liver saved the life of a boy around his age, and his kidneys went to an older woman who had been on dialysis for over four years.

Ali said that agreeing to organ donation has helped to keep Barney’s memory alive.

She said: “Barney lives on in his gifts to them and for this we shall be forever grateful. If anything can make the sudden loss of your child even a smidgen easier, for us it was knowing this.”

Barney suddenly became ill with meningitis last year.

Mum Ali Smith (centre left) received the award on Barney’s behalf from John Crabtree, His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the West Midlands (centre right).

“We had spent the weekend celebrating the sun with a wonderful BBQ with neighbours,” said Ali. “Little did we know that the following week our lives would change forever. Our biggest concern that weekend was too much sun and our two year old Barney refusing to nap because he wanted to play with friends.

“Barney began the week with a temperature and wasn’t really himself but by Friday we were in Birmingham children’s hospital and were told that Barney had Pneumococcal meningitis. Barney had not displayed any of the usual symptoms of meningitis, but our sunshine little boy had gone.

“Sam and I had already had a discussion about organ donation. We had seen a display in the hospital and I had brought it up, under the guise of a ‘worst case scenario’ as his death was still fiction for us. Sam’s response – ‘Of course, Barney loved to share, but it won’t ever get to that’ – will always stick in my mind.

“So when we were given the news that nothing more could be done for Barney, the only thing we could think of was what could he do for other people.

“Barney’s liver and both kidneys were matched, and at 7:22 one morning last spring sat in the prep room for surgery, Barney’s heart stopped beating in my arms.”

Ali and Sam now want to raise awareness of child organ donation.

“It is something that is not spoken about enough. Even when we spoke about it, it was still a fantasy – something to happen on TV, not to us, not to Barney.

“But it is a conversation that everyone should have. It made that decision for us so much easier, in what was the worst moment of our lives. After all, it might not be your child donating organs, but needing them.”

The Order of St John Award for Organ Donation has been run in conjunction with NHS Blood and Transplant for the past decade.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Organ donors and their families are truly inspirational people. Every donor transforms the lives of people they don’t know and the pride their families rightly feel is incredibly powerful.

“Saving the lives of others is an amazing legacy to leave and donor families say donation is a source of pride that helps them in their grief.”

People who wish to donate organs must register their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23 for more information or to register.


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