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Matthew's story

By Jenny

Matthew may have been an imposing figure of a man, six foot one inch, broad shoulders and a full head of 'floppy' dark hair. He was often gruff and intimidating while fighting for the underdog in his role of union official, but anyone who knew him well, knew he was a big softy inside. He had a massive heart and a huge capacity to give and receive love.

Funny, personable, goofy, talented, caring and an all-round good guy. We'd been childhood sweethearts, then married for 17 years. He was the very proud father of a daughter and a son, coaching children in Auskick football and pursuing a career he loved and was passionate about, when at the age of 38 he suffered a sudden and fatal brain aneurysm.

Always the fighter, he hung on to life for three days before the doctors shut off his ventilator. There had been no indication of health issues and no warnings to heed. The aneurysm could have been there since birth, or it could have developed recently - —no-one knew the answer to why this exceptional man had died.

Ironically, just the evening before his aneurysm, in response to my emotional reaction to a television program depicting the death of a young husband, we discussed our own views on organ donation. It was agreed that if there was no hope of survival we would both offer all we could to try and save someone else.

This made my decision easier when approached by the hospital regarding organ donation - —and so seven people got the chance for continued life due to Matthew's gift of himself.

His family received comfort knowing that his death had not been in vain and that thanks to him, several people (somewhere) were experiencing the joy of renewed life. Those people share a bond with Matthew's family and everyone else he touched during his short life. We all carry a piece of Matthew with us forever.

Nobody wants to think that tragedy will strike, but please if you take nothing else away from Matthew's story, hold your loved ones a little closer tonight and make them aware of what your wishes are.

If you do want to donate your organs, register and make that decision easier for those left behind. We can debate forever about whether there is a heaven and never come up with a definitive answer, but I can tell you absolutely that there is life after death - —organ donation is proof of that.

Jenny