Teen’s dying gift of giving life to many praised
Bryn’s death gives hope and a future to 57
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”.