Norfolk families are given honours for loved ones who donated organs

Saqib Mahmood with his daughters Surraya and Sophie and granddaughter Aiyana, who received an award

Saqib Mahmood with his daughters Surraya and Sophie and granddaughter Aiyana, who received an award on behalf of his wife, Maureen Mahmood, who died earlier this year.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

It is a gift that goes on to save countless lives in the UK each year.

Janet Baxter's family receive the Order of St John Award on her behalf. Left to right, Janet's siste

Janet Baxter's family receive the Order of St John Award on her behalf. Left to right, Janet's sister Jackie Broom, Janet's husband Tony Baxter and Janet and Tony's daughter Rachel Baxter. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

And now people from across Norfolk have been posthumously awarded for donating their organs to help those in need.

The Order of St John award for organ donation has been presented to the families of 17 individuals who saved and improved people's lives through becoming organ donors.

It comes as the number of deceased organ donors in the UK dropped for the first time in 11 years between April 2014 and March 2015. There are 55 people from Norfolk on the UK's waiting list for transplant. Of those, 12 have been waiting longer than two years, and three have been waiting more than five years.

Meanwhile, Suffolk has 36 people on its waiting list, with six waiting longer than two years and four people waiting longer than five years. Alasdair Wilson, chairman of the Norfolk County Priory Group of the Order of St John, said: 'With around three people dying every day due to the shortage of organs, these donors and their families have carried out an inspirational act to help others to live.

'We hope the example they have set will encourage many more to follow in their footsteps and agree to become an organ donor.'

More than 1,200 people in UK were honoured through the Order of St John for donating their organs after death this year. The annual awards are run in conjunction with NHS Blood and Transplant.

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Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, added: 'We have been overwhelmed by the pride and experiences shared by the hundreds of families who have accepted the award on their loved one's behalf. We hope their bravery will inspire others to talk about their own decision with people close to them and record their intention to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Register.'

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 2323.

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