Teen’s dy­ing gift of giv­ing life to many praised

Bryn’s death gives hope and a fu­ture to 57

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - TANYA WATERWORTH

BRYN Ma­gree brought sun­shine into the lives of his fam­ily and friends.

The 16-year-old from Westville, Dur­ban, who col­lapsed and died from a brain aneurysm at the be­gin­ning of the year, also brought hope and a fu­ture to 57 peo­ple af­ter he passed away.

This week, his mother, Ja­nine, spoke about her son and how he had signed up to be an organ donor a cou­ple of months be­fore he un­ex­pect­edly died.

When Bryn col­lapsed at a lo­cal gym, he was rushed to King Ed­ward Hospi­tal where his heart was restarted af­ter it stopped for a sec­ond time late that night.

Ja­nine and her hus­band, Brett, ap­proached the hospi­tal’s doc­tors.

“We wanted to ask whether tests could be con­ducted to as­cer­tain whether Bryn was brain-stem dead, so a de­ci­sion could be made.

“I knew of an­other young boy whose or­gans had not been vi­able for do­na­tion be­cause the wait for a re­sponse to treat­ment had been too long,” said Ja­nine.

By a co­in­ci­dence, a few months be­fore Bryn died, Ja­nine had read about an­other Dur­ban young­ster, Matthew Lege­maate, and his need for a heart and dou­ble lung trans­plant.

“His mother had writ­ten quite a lot about him. I went home and we dis­cussed organ do­na­tion over the din­ner ta­ble. I asked the fam­ily if they were keen to sign up and Bryn said, ‘Why not, what am I go­ing to do with my or­gans when I’m dead?’ There’s also no cost in­volved and we all signed up,” said Ja­nine.

She de­scribed the doc­tors’ re­sponse as highly com­pas­sion­ate.

“At King Ed­ward, our ex­pe­ri­ence was one of con­sid­er­a­tion for the fam­ily’s sen­si­bil­i­ties and even when I’d asked the younger doc­tor to ex­plain to Bryn’s friends why the de­ci­sion had been made and why the time fac­tor was im­por­tant ( vi­a­bil­ity of the or­gans), he didn’t just do his duty and move on.

“At 3.30am, he and a nurse friend sat a quiet vigil along­side Bryn’s bed, hold­ing his hand,” she said.

Af­ter three hours’ sleep that fate­ful night, Ja­nine woke up know­ing she and the fam­ily would be say­ing good-bye to their much- loved son and brother. Bryn was moved to Al­bert Luthuli Hospi­tal where two teams pro­cured or­gans, bone and tis­sue.

“It hurt like hell and it still does, but we have the con­so­la­tion of know­ing his fit young body was used to help oth­ers. What I didn’t know was that by agree­ing to do­nate not only or­gans, but also tis­sue, bone and corneas, Bryn was help­ing as many as 60 peo­ple,” she said.

De­scrib­ing Bryn as a “cud­dly blond baby with a ra­di­ant smile”, Ja­nine said her son loved sport, in­clud­ing soc­cer, rugby, swim­ming, surf­ing and life­sav­ing and cap­tained the wa­ter polo team. He was also good at art, mu­sic and danc­ing, as well as be­ing a bit of a risk­taker.

“He would skate­board to the end of the cul-de-sac with his pals at about 70km/h and fear­lessly leapt off the cliff at Inanda Dam. He was also good with lit­tle chil­dren,” she said. He also “strug­gled to rise and shine, pro­cras­ti­nated and took ages in the bath­room but we would gladly en­dure these mi­nor ir­ri­ta­tions if we could only turn back time”, she added.

“If we have man­aged to spare an­other fam­ily this heartache, then we are glad we made the de­ci­sion to do­nate.

“Our boy was more than just his body and we know we’ll be to­gether in time,” said Ja­nine.

While com­pat­i­bil­ity with Matthew Lege­maate was ruled out at the hospi­tal, the Ma­gree fam­ily know their de­ci­sion has moved Matthew up the list as a wait­ing organ re­cip­i­ent.

On Thurs­day, his mother, Janet, said: “For Ja­nine to think of Matthew at such a ter­ri­ble time shows just what an in­cred­i­ble per­son she is. She loved her son with ev­ery­thing in her, but when she knew noth­ing could help him any­more, she gave the gift of life to so many.”

She said Matthew’s health had “be­gun to de­te­ri­o­rate at a more rapid rate… But he told us re­cently that he is de­ter­mined to re­main pos­i­tive”.

Matthew Lege­maate

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