Woman's tribute on 20th anniversary of her Hartlepool sister's tragic death
A woman whose big sister took an overdose after she had saved her life with a bone marrow transplant has paid tribute to her on the 20th anniversary of her death.
Brave Elaine Swift was subjected to cruel taunts after making the donation so that younger sibling Christine could live.
Elaine died on November 27, 2001, after swallowing an overdose of paracetamol.
Christine, who was cured of leukaemia and is now 30, today said: "Elaine passed away just three days after my 10th birthday.
"This time of year is always incredibly difficult for me and she is in my thoughts more than ever.
"We were more than just sisters, we were best friends.
"Elaine saved my life. She agreed to donate her bone marrow without a moment's hesitation.
“I want her to be remembered for the sacrifice she made.
"The tragedy is, she saved my life, but never got to see me grow up."
Elaine was 11 when medics discovered she was a perfect match for Christine and 15 after she was rushed to hospital following her overdose.
A liver transplant failed due to septicaemia and she later died.
At an inquest held at Hartlepool Civic Centre, Coroner Malcolm Donnelly said Elaine's death was "tragic" although he could not be sure Elaine intended to die and recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Christine, who now works at Hotel du Vin in Edinburgh, said: "I struggled a lot as a teenager, as I blamed myself for Elaine's death, and I turned to alcohol to numb the paid.
"But with counselling I am now happier than ever.
"I travel all over the world on my own. I have a great life, and that's all because of Elaine's gift."
Christine added: "The last time Elaine spoke to me she said: 'I am sorry, I am sorry. I love you, I love you.'
"It was heartbreaking. This person had saved my life and now she was losing her own.
"But despite the fact she's gone, I don't truly feel as though she's left me. I have her blood in my blood. Nothing will ever change that."
Details about the organ donor register are available at www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ or from 0300 123 23 23.
The Samaritans can be contacted on for free on 116 123.