'Stephen had spoken of his wish to donate' 

Stephen Masters, 32, died of a brain haemorrhage in January 2001. The decision to allow his organs to be donated was made less heartrending for his family because they already knew exactly what Stephen would have wanted.

"Stephen had spoken of his wish to donate if the circumstances ever arose. He was a very generous man by nature and making a gift of his organs was entirely in character," says Stephen's brother, Paul.

"We discussed it as a family after the transplant co-ordinator made the initial approach and, in spite of the awful suddenness of his death, we were able to give permission because we wanted to honour his wishes."

The donation went ahead and Stephen's kidneys, liver and lungs were transplanted into four people that day. His heart had been damaged and was unsuitable for transplant, although his heart valves were stored for later transplants.

"We were told that the man who'd received Stephen's lungs had cystic fibrosis. He'd been on a ventilator before the transplant, but within 24 hours of the operation he was breathing on his own again," says Paul.

Almost a year later, Paul and his family received news from the recipients of Stephen's kidneys.

"When letters arrived from the women who'd received Stephen's kidneys, I saw then that his death had served a purpose, that there had been some meaning to what had seemed to be such a senseless waste of his life.

"Receiving letters from the recipients gave tremendous comfort to us and has helped us come to terms with our loss. I was also pleased to see they appreciated the gift Stephen had made, and had the kindness to let us know what a difference he had made to their lives."

Page last reviewed: 24/11/2014

Next review due: 24/11/2017