By his sister Rachael
My little brother, Chris, was a loving, fiercely intelligent family man. He was also quick-witted with a dry sense of humour and a life-long fan of Peterborough United – often a source of much amusement for his friends and colleagues.
With just four short years between us in age, we’d grown up together as the youngest of four children; forming a close friendship in our early years that lasted into our twenties as he became a proud dad and I became a mum almost exactly a year later.
Life was good; Chris had recently started a new dream job in sales management and was thrilled about completing his family, as he and his wife were expecting a much-longed for daughter to join their young son.
Chris was one of life’s true heroes – as well as working full-time and raising a family, he still found enough space in his diary to be a Police Special Constable and a regular blood and platelets donor. In fact, he’d already racked up his Gold ’50 Donations’ Award despite having only just turned 30. But he never bragged about all of this – other than occasionally joking on Facebook about ‘keeping the streets safe’ or ‘bleeding again at the donor centre’.
Chris was certainly the fittest member of our family, so his sudden collapse at home due to a massive stroke was a complete shock for us all. He was flown by air ambulance to the nearest specialist hospital and treated by one of the leading consultant neurologists in the country, but tragically after five days in intensive care, there really was nothing more that could be done.
When the prognosis was delivered to Chris’ wife and the rest of us, we knew from conversations that we’d had in the past that he would be on the organ donor register – which he was. We could never say that it was an easy decision to let him go, but it was certainly made easier for us to agree to his donation because we were fully aware of his wishes. In short, we had an innate sense that it was the right thing to do and that it was exactly what he wanted.
Chris passed away very peacefully surrounded by his family, including myself, and was able to donate both his kidneys to two recipients – one of whom is a father of five – so Chris would have wholeheartedly approved. We cannot fault the care he received and the level of dignity and respect with which he was treated throughout his time with the paramedics, then in A&E, ICU and ultimately the transplant theatre.
Aside from the sadness of losing Chris; we take great comfort in knowing that his legacy lives on not only in his children, but also in saving the lives of two strangers that we may never meet.
Since his death, I have been proud to be involved with the iLIVEiGIVE organ donation awareness campaign, meeting fellow supporters, organ recipients, living organ donors and some of the staff who make it happen. This has been a humbling and moving experience and has helped me through many of the dark days when the pain of his loss was often completely overwhelming.
And, as a result of all this, I personally know that, particularly through social media, my brother’s story has inspired dozens of people to sign up for the organ donor register and to have that often taboo conversation with their loved ones. Just as we did – simply chatting over coffee one day.
I will continue to do all I can to campaign in his memory and I am now signed up to donate everything from blood to bone marrow while I’m here and, if possible, any part of my body when the time comes.
I will always love my amazing little brother – not only for the man he was, but for everything he stood for in life and ultimately, his untimely death. I can truly say that organ donation saves lives in more ways than one.