Jacquie Pedley's son Ben died at the age of 26 after he was involved in a cycling accident. Months before his death, in 2017, the Reading University chemistry student had renewed his organ donor registration.

His organs were used to save the lives of five people, including father-of-three Mike Hanlon, from Knightswood in Glasgow who recently met his mother Jacquie.

The first hug with Jacquie was incredible when she could feel Ben’s heart beating. It was such an emotional experience. My heart was certainly beating much faster, almost as if it was aware it was Jacquie.

But she said to me, although it’s Ben heart she feels beating, it’s now mine and it couldn’t be in a better place.

I was very open minded about meeting Jacquie. I wanted to convey my thanks, gratitude and relief that I have my life back and have a future with my wife and family.

I also wanted to find out more about Ben and reflect on the terrible loss that Jacquie and her family suffered and are still suffering. Their pain was my gain.

I hoped she would somehow see that through Ben's death part of him lives on and Jacquie could see part of his legacy.

I honestly feel we both took so much from the time together. If circumstances were different and we had simply met abroad 10 years ago on holiday I’m sure we would still be friends today, that’s how well we bonded.

It was such a great two days in what were difficult circumstances. When we first saw each other and hugged, the emotion was incredible.

I’m not a nervous person but I was a bag of nerves about a hour before we met. What if we don’t like each other, what if she doesn’t feel I deserve Ben's heart? There were so many emotions but within five minutes and a box of hankies we were at ease with each other.

I think about Ben every day and the unselfish thing he did and the legacy he has left.

When Andy, Jacquie’s partner, said to me the first night he couldn’t believe the difference in Jacquie in the short time since we met, for the first time in 18 months he felt he had Jacquie back, I knew it had been worth meeting.

I’m a very confident guy, up until I had my transplant I wasn’t really an emotional person but now watching Bambi makes me cry.

I took Jacquie and her partner to the Golden Jubilee Hospital [in Clydebank] where I had my transplant and showed them my room. Bizarrely it was the same room number as their room at the Central Hotel, where they stayed when we met.

I learned so much more about Ben and the character he was. Jacquie gave me some of the newspapers with Ben’s story, letters from his university and a golf ball of Ben’s – a Titleist, the same as I play with, with his unique mark on it, golfers out there will know what I mean.

Five lives were saved because of what Ben did. For anyone who is thinking about signing the register, I would say to them, read this story. Three people are dying every day waiting.

I would say, to all recipients of transplants, if you get the chance to meet the donor family take it.


Caroline Wilson