Posthumous award recognises charity supporter Jane’s life-saving decision to donate her organs

Nigel Smith has received an award from the Order of St John in recognition of organs donated by his late partner Jane Rutherford
Nigel Smith has received an award from the Order of St John in recognition of organs donated by his late partner Jane Rutherford
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A well known charity supporter and performer who died last year has been honoured with a posthumous award to recognise her life-saving decision to donate her organs.

Jane Rutherford, a trustee at St Nicholas Hospice Care, in Bury St Edmunds, who passed away aged 63, was among 20 recipients of the new accolade created by the Order of St John with NHS Blood and Transplant.

It was presented to the families and loved ones of those who saved and improved people’s lives through organ donation with 10 handed out at a ceremony in Bury by the High Sherriff of Suffolk, Sir Edward Greenwell.

Ms Rutherford, who suffered a brain haemorrhage last October and died at West Suffolk Hospital, was on the organ donor register with her liver going to a patient with just 72 hours to live while her kidneys went to two other people.

Her partner Nigel Smith, 61, of Rede, collected the award at the ceremony at the Unitarian Meeting House.

He said: “The medical team discussed with us the possibility of Jane’s organs being donated and, as we were aware that she was on the organ donor register, we readily agreed to support her wishes. Jane’s organs went on to be used to save and improve the lives of three people.

Mr Smith, who was part of the liver and renal transplant team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital 35-years-ago, said: “The vast majority of the public support organ donation, though few get around to signing the donor register. Unfortunately around three people die every day due to the shortage of organs and there are 10,000 people in the UK in need of a transplant.”

Ms Rutherford spent her career working for the NHS and moved to Bury as director of personnel at West Suffolk Health Authority in 1983.

She became director of healthcare commissioning for the authority and was later director of corporate services of Suffolk Health Authority.

During her retirement, she volunteered at the hospice and served on its board of trustees.

She spent nine years as a trustee and was vice-chairman for many years.

She was also involved with Bury Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, the Suffolk Horse Society and The Aquarius Singers. With her partner, they kept Suffolk Punch horses.

From April 2012 to March 2013, the families of 1,212 people in the UK agreed to donate their loved ones’ organs.