A man who received a crucial heart transplant has had an emotional meeting with the mother of the organ donor who saved his life.
Mike Hanlon, 57, was critically ill in March 2017 when medics confirmed they had received a donor heart at the eleventh hour.
The donor was Ben Pedley, 26, from Reading who passed away two days after he was involved in a cycling accident.
And now dad-of-three Mike has met Ben’s mum Jacquie Pedley – who has spoken of the relief of knowing her son’s heart was “in a very good place” – for the first time.
Mike from Glasgow, told how the pair embraced “for a good few seconds” and said: “Sitting there waiting for Jacquie, I was so nervous but I feel elated now.”
Jacquie, 56, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire said: “I feel as if a weight has lifted.
“The heart is such an important part of my son and I wanted to know it was in the right place.
“It’s been incredibly hard, I think about Ben every day. He was an extraordinary boy but I know that this is something that Ben wanted.
“Ben had said, ‘why would you not want to make good use of something you don’t need yourself?’
“That was his attitude. I desperately wanted to know that his heart had gone to a good place.”
Months before his death the Reading University student renewed his organ donor registration.
His organs were used to save the lives of five people, including a toddler, after his family honoured his wishes by giving consent for donation.
Wiping tears from his face Mike described the moment the pair met as “magic”.
He said: “I’ve been desperate to meet Jacquie and it’s taken three attempts.
“I’m a very confident guy, up until I had my transplant I wasn’t really an emotional person.
“Now, watching Bambi makes me cry.”
After Mike received his transplant and recovered, he took a letter into the Golden Jubilee hospital in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire for Ben’s family.
But Mike, who took five attempts at writing the note, was amazed to discover a letter was waiting for him from Jacquie at the hospital.
Their meeting was accelerated after Mike’s son Sean responded to a post on Facebook, written by Ben’s brother Will.
Jacquie is full of praise for the staff at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, saying they went ‘above and beyond’ to make the transplant process respectful and dignified.
The mum was able to stay with Ben in the operating theatre, while his heart was removed, and for some time after.
She said: “In my heart of hearts I knew that there was going to be someone on the other side, waiting for the right decision to be made.
“This is not just one person, it’s ripples, it’s families.
“I feel very strongly the way things are going with organ donation, where people have to opt-out.
“I think that’s a great way to go but I think there does still need to be a role for the family.”
Jacquie, who has now signed up to the organ donation list herself, added: “Ben’s heart is Mike’s but I do feel as if he is living on.
“To think that they could be going through what I’m going through, you just can’t imagine – I’m so happy for Mike.”
Mike, added: “I think about Ben every day and the unselfish thing he did and the legacy he has left.”