LOSING a parent can be a devastating experience, especially when your tender age makes it so much more difficult to cope with grief.

Barrhead schoolgirl Summer Esson was just 11 when her 45-year-old father Gregor died after suffering a heart attack.

Naturally, coming to terms with the tragedy has been tough for Summer.

However, she can take some comfort from knowing that, in death, her dad has helped others to live.

Organs from Gregor, known to his friends as Greg, have given the gift of life to three people who were in desperate need of a transplant.

Now his daughter is raising awareness of organ donation.

And it was a proud moment for Summer and her family as she collected the Order of St John UK Award for Organ Donation in honour of her dad.

The award is given by invitation to families whose loved one donated their organs.

St Luke’s High pupil Summer, now 12, collected the award during a ceremony at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

Her mum, Laura Turnbull, is hoping Summer’s story will encourage other people to consider the importance of organ donation.

Barrhead News: Summer with her mum, Laura TurnbullSummer with her mum, Laura Turnbull

She told the Barrhead News: “Although the decision to donate Greg’s organs was very hard at the time, it was definitely the correct thing to do.

“It offers the gift of life to other people, bringing joy to them at a time when you are suffering.”

Summer had been getting ready for school on Wednesday, February 13, when she saw her dad lying on his bed with his eyes wide open.

She went to check on him, only to find he was unresponsive.

Summer said: “I thought he was joking with me at first because his eyes were open. I was like ‘dad, dad’ but then I realised that he wouldn’t joke for that long and it was starting to scare me.”

She immediately took the grown-up decision to call the emergency services, who were able to give her advice on what to do.

“She was asked to get him off the bed and onto the floor, but she obviously couldn’t do that because she was only 11,” Laura added.

“She went to get help from Greg’s next-door neighbour Danny Quigley.

“Danny gave Greg CPR until the ambulance arrived.

“Greg had suffered a severe cardiac arrest and was rushed to the Golden Jubilee Hospital, in Clydebank, to undergo an emergency operation to fit a stent, but the problem was there was too much lack of oxygen to his brain that caused him to pass.”

Tragically, Greg died a week later, on February 19.

Laura said: “Summer and her gran Alice, along with Greg’s sisters, consulted the rest of the family and decided his vital organs should be donated.

“Summer and Danny’s actions made it possible for Greg to be an organ donor and we have been told that his organs managed to help three families change their lives for the better.”

In a letter that was sent to Greg’s family, they were told that a man and a woman received kidney transplants and were ‘doing well’, whilst another man received a ‘life-changing’ liver transplant.

Barrhead News: Summer shows her award to St Luke’s High headteacher Christine DownieSummer shows her award to St Luke’s High headteacher Christine Downie

“What I tell Summer is that although she’s lost her dad, him as one person, has saved three other people,” Laura added.

During the precious week Summer had with her dad before he died, hospital staff helped her create a memory box, with an angel statue and forget-me-not seeds for her to plant, as well as his personal items that included his rings. 

“They let me make somethings to keep.

“I painted a picture of a tree and the leaves are my dad’s finger prints and I also made a heart out of my dad and my finger prints,” Summer said.

“I have a whole drawer in my room dedicated to my dad that has some of his hoodies and tops and his aftershave too.”

The family also purchased a brick at Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, which will allow Summer to visit and place flowers at Christmas, Father’s Day and on Greg’s birthday.