Heart-warming gift

2014-08-16 00:00

A PINETOWN man left brain-dead after a horror car accident gave the gift of life to another with an eleventh hour heart transplant.

Gareth Horrocks had been flung from a bakkie after a high-speed collision and clung to life for nearly three days.

His heart saved the life of a 49-year-old man who was on the verge of death and had been given a grim prognosis, having only two days to live.

The 25-year-old had married his long-time girlfriend just a month earlier.

His mother Carol said the family had been shattered by a frantic phone call saying Gareth had been in an accident.

“He had gone to work and just before 10 am, a tow trucker phoned my husband and said he had been in an accident. He said it was serious and they needed us there. By the time my husband got there the ambulance had taken him away,” she said.

“He had been on the back of a bakkie and a guy had ignored a traffic signal and sped into an intersection. We have witnesses who have said that vehicle hit the bakkie at a tremendous speed. He was thrown off the bakkie and he had serious head injuries, a fractured hip, a broken leg and cracked skull.”

She said her son was declared brain dead shortly after his arrival at St Augustine’s Hospital.

“They first told us that they could operate and about half an hour later they said there was nothing they could do.

“They monitored him and got specialists to come in and give their opinions and two days later they told us that there was no brain activity and that he was gone. You know that your child is gone yet he still lies there in front of you,” she said.

His father Mike said seeing his mortally injured son had exacted an unbelievable toll on him.

“It was the most excruciating moment of our lives and probably the single hardest thing I have ever had to see, to see him lying there like that.

“His wife decided she would sit by his bedside all night and they had spoken about death before, and he had said to her that his vital signs would tell her when it was time to go. Just after 2 am he had a spasm and she came through and said it was time,” he said.

Hundreds of people lined the halls of the intensive care unit and paid their respects to Horrocks.

So inundated was the hospital with visitors that the in-house café ran out of milk.

His mother said the last moments as he was wheeled out of the ward were the hardest.

“On Saturday morning they took him away. He saved a man’s life — we have been told that his heart went to a family man who would have been dead within days if Gareth didn’t save him.”

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za

PULLOUT QUOTE

“I would like to meet the man who got his heart, I would like to tell him who it came from and tell him all about the heart that beats within him.” - Carol Horrocks, mother of Gareth

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