Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

We're Very Proud of Gareth for Saving Lives; Family of 29-Year-Old Attack Victim Humbled to Learn Their Son Wanted to Help Others

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

We're Very Proud of Gareth for Saving Lives; Family of 29-Year-Old Attack Victim Humbled to Learn Their Son Wanted to Help Others

Article excerpt

Byline: ALASTAIR CRAIG

IN death, dad-of-two Gareth Phillips has given the gift of life to three strangers.

The 29-year-old died in hospital two days after suffering head injuries at a house party in Hebburn, South Tyneside.

Speaking for the first time about their loss, Gareth's parents and twin sisters told today how their boy had saved the lives of three others by donating his organs.

Gary and Catherine, and twins Emily and Grace, 25, were unaware that Gareth had decided to make the ultimate gesture in death.

But they said the thought that their son's liver, pancreas and kidneys had given transplant patients a second chance was a "great comfort" as they grieve their only son.

Gareth had hoped to marry his partner Amy later this year, with their daughters Faith, five, and Sydney, two, acting as flower girls.

Over 50 of Gareth's family, friends and colleagues gathered at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary last Monday to say their final goodbyes after he was pronounced brain dead.

And his dad Gary told how surgeons gave the family 15 minutes to agree to start the process of removing organs for emergency delivery across the country.

Gary, from Hebburn, a retired policeman and now a tactical advisor for the Abu Dhabi police force, said the tragedy had left a gaping hole in the community. "We didn't even know that Gareth wanted to donate his organs to help others," he said. "It was very humbling to hear. We are very proud.

"Gareth was no angel, but he was growing into the kind of son every family would be proud of. The doctors said his heart was too big to donate.

"That is so true. He always had a huge heart.

"He doted on his partner and children.

He called Faith and Sydney his 'little princesses'.

"They loved him to bits. They are too young to understand that their daddy won't be around anymore. I will do all I can to support his family. I'll work until I'm 90 if I have to.

"It was a Godsend for Gareth when Amy came on the scene, and we are very close to her parents Paul and Bernie. They are a lovely family."

Gary told how he was in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, when a call came telling him Gareth was close to death on an intensive care ward.

"I got on the first flight I could," he said. "My employers were wonderful and just told be to get home. I got back, and at about 11am on the Monday in hospital, I was faced with what was, in many ways, a beautiful scene.

"Dozens of his mates were at the hospital, by his bed. Grown, hard men inconsolable in tears. It was devastating but it showed us how much Gareth meant to so many people.

"We were told that day that Gareth was brain dead and doctors wanted to start the organ donor process. We had 15 minutes to agree to let surgeons take his organs. …

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