THE brave decision to donate a loved one’s organs is often surrounded by tragic circumstances.
Ged and Marianne Heywood still feel the heartache of losing their teenage son, Phillip, almost 10 years ago.
But they say they find comfort in knowing he helped dramatically improve or save the lives of others.
Phillip was aged just 19 when he died from an allergic reaction to a tikka masala curry — despite having eaten the same dish before.
Ged and Marianne, both aged 57, of Churchill Drive, Little Lever, admit they found it difficult to choose what organs to donate so soon after the shock of their son’s sudden death in June, 2004.
Phillip told his father he wanted to sign up to the organ donor register when first filling out his application for a driving licence, aged 17.
He had also told a friend in passing about his wishes.
Mr Heywood said: “It was very hard because as a family, you never imagine you will be in that position.
“When they asked us what we wanted to do, I remembered what Phillip had said to me that day when he was filling out his form, which was that he was ticking the box to be an organ donor.
“And then his friend said they’d talked about it too, which helped me feel certain about his wishes. Thinking about it, that was typical Phillip — he always thought of other people first.
“It was difficult when the list of organs we wished to donate was put in front of us. It’s a very hard decision to make because that was our son, but over the years that decision has really helped us.”
The recipients of Phillip’s donated organs included a one-year-old baby boy, a dad-of-two with emphysema and a woman living with kidney failure.
The couple are backing the Sign Up to Save Lives campaign and say the most important step potential donors must take is telling their family about their wishes.
Mr Heywood said: “When Phillip passed away, we all discussed being organ donors and I would encourage other families to do the same.
“Obviously it’s up to the individual whether they choose to or not, but God forbid a family is ever in a similar situation to what we were. It makes it easier if you know exactly what they would have wanted.
“Even though Phillip is not here anymore, we’re still incredibly proud of him for what he did.”
Phillip died after sharing the tikka dish with his girlfriend, Becky, and suffered an anaphylactic shock, which caused the windpipe to close. He was taken to hospital in Trafford from Becky’s Heywood home, but died two days later on June 7.
At the time, hundreds of tributes poured in for the soccer-mad Manchester United fan, along with a letter from Sir Alex Ferguson.
Phillip was once a team mascot for the club and had met David Beckham.