A LITTLE girl who died last year has been hailed a hero after her organs saved five people’s lives.

Ella Thatcher had Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of childhood epilepsy.

Her parents Anna and Mike said they were proud the ten-year-old was living on through others.

Ella, from Hurstpierpoint, died following a seizure.

Anna and Mike had thought her health was improving after her seizures were reduced from 55 a month to one every six months.

However, one morning the youngster suffered an attack at home and she was rushed to Evelina London Children’s Hospital. The family were told Ella’s brain had swelled and she was “essentially brain dead”.

Her heartbroken parents had to tell Ella’s brother Oliver, 14, and sister, Mia, nine, that she had died.

Anna and Mike decided to donate their daughter’s organs to help others. As a result, her heart, kidneys, lungs, liver and pancreas saved five lives.

The Thatchers are now encouraging people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

The Argus:

Anna, 46, said: “Although it’s been a year it still feels like yesterday to us. It was the hardest thing because we were just hoping for her to blink or make a sign but after all the tests we were left in no doubt that she had gone.

“It was a complete shock but everyone at Evelina London Children’s Hospital did their best and we both agreed that her organs should be donated if they were suitable.

“The staff were amazing. They stroked her hair, spoke to her and kept her warm. A senior nurse who had just finished a night shift even stayed to hold Ella’s hand in the operating theatre so she wasn’t alone.

“It’s really comforting to know that a bit of her goes on and that other families didn’t have to go through the same thing.

“Because of Ella, five other families out there never had to plan funerals or miss the person they love.

“She saved three adults and two children.

“We received a letter from the child who got her heart and they called Ella a hero. That was amazing.”

A new artwork has just been unveiled at St Thomas’ Hospital in London which honours organ donors and Ella’s initials have been engraved on to the piece.

The Argus:

The artwork, The Song Of The Nightingale, was created in steel and felt by former patient Ted Harrison, who received a kidney transplant 30 years ago.

The art was blessed by The Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Dame Sarah Mullally, who previously worked at St Thomas’ as a nurse.

Ted, who had his transplant at Guy’s Hospital, said: “I will be forever grateful to my donor and her family for such an immense gift. The nightingale is the theme of the artwork – not only because of this hospital’s historic links with Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing, but also because in nature the nightingale sings a beautiful song of new hope even when the night seems to be at its darkest.”

Samuel Newman, specialist nurse for organ donation at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “There are more than 50,000 people alive today thanks to an organ transplant. This would not have been possible without the generosity and selflessness of thousands of organ donors like Ella, and the bravery of their families. About 6,000 people are in need of an organ transplant in the UK so it remains as crucial as ever for people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.”