Wendy Kane, 47, from Shoreham-by-Sea explains how her precious son died on the way to the bus stop...

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My son Jack looked at me, a cheeky glint in his eyes.

‘Tally-ho, Rodders!’ he laughed across the kitchen. ‘I’ll get the juice.’

Next thing, he and I were in stitches. Me and Jack, 21, had the same sense of humour. We were constantly spouting lines from Only Fools and Horses, bantering away.

Call me biased, but my son was gorgeous, with a great character to match.

Although he lived about 30 miles away from me in Crawley, we saw each other all the time, were always phoning and texting each other.

Hoping for a promotion to Senior Sales Advisor in a mobile-phone shop, he’d been with his girlfriend Charlotte, 18, for about a year.

And, on 3 November last year, we were chatting about plans for his 22nd birthday in nine days’ time.

‘Charlotte’s got a surprise planned for the weekend,’ he told me.

‘Well, I’ll let you enjoy that, then we can have lunch on Monday,’ I smiled. I was looking forward to it.

‘I love you,’ he said as we finished the conversation.

‘Love you, too,’ I replied.

Only we never got to go for that lunch. Because, two days later, on the Saturday at about midday, my daughter Charlie, 25, phoned me.

‘Jack’s hit his head,’ she said, panic in her voice. ‘He needs to go to hospital.’

‘He’s probably had a hypo and collapsed,’ I thought.

Jack was diabetic. But usually he controlled it very well. So I assumed he’d just had a blip and fainted. I wasn’t too worried.

But then I spoke to Charlotte on the phone.

‘He was walking me to the bus stop and he slipped on the pavement,’ she managed to explain. ‘We’re waiting for the air ambulance to take him to London.’

‘Oh, my God!’ I gasped, shaking, my stomach lurching.

As an Intensive Care nurse, I knew that was bad news.

Jack’s dad David, 55, was already there when my partner and I arrived at the hospital.

‘He’s gone straight to theatre,’ he said. ‘He might not make it through surgery – and if he does, he won’t be the same.’

It didn’t seem real, waiting as surgeons battled to stem the bleeding on Jack’s brain and stop the swelling.

How on earth could this have happened through just slipping up on the pavement?

Everything seemed a blur when, a few hours later, the surgeon came to see us.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing more we can do.’

Devastating.

The impact of the fall had caused Jack’s brain to rebound in his skull and haemorrhage. His brain stem had been irreversibly damaged. Now he was gone – just like that. All because he fell over.

Wendy, Charlie and Jack (Photo: SWNS)

The next person who came to speak with us was the organ-donation nurse. Jack was on the register and they wanted permission to take his organs to help others.

‘Yes,’ I said straightaway.

I remembered the day, about two years earlier, when Jack had signed up, then badgered the rest of us to do the same. It’d meant a lot to him.

Losing him was senseless but, if he could save just one person, it would seem less so.

Jack was in a side room, a life-support machine keeping his organs alive.

Two days later, his dad, sister, girlfriend and I said our heartbreaking goodbyes, then the machine was switched off and Jack slipped away.

He was wheeled to the operating theatre for the organ-donation surgery, and we were left to go home without him.

I just couldn’t take it in.

Next morning, I got a call from the organ-donation nurse.

‘Jack’s lungs have been successfully transplanted,’ he explained.

It gave me hope, knowing Jack’s wishes had been met.

Somehow, I got through the days that followed.

I looked at photos of my Jack, lighting a candle every night.

On 23 November, we held his funeral at St Bartholomew Church in Otford, near Sevenoaks.

Hundreds of people packed the church, and somehow I managed to hold it together to read out a poem I’d written, packed with Only Fools references we used to share.

Not long after the funeral, a letter arrived.

My hands shook as I read that Jack’s lungs and liver had been given to two men in their 50s, one kidney to a lady in her 20s, the other to a man in his 30s.

Jack’s been gone for four months now – and, most of the time, I carry on as if he’s still around… Until something reminds me he’s not, and the pain takes my breath away again.

Jack’s death wasn’t caused by anything other than sheer bad luck.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my boy. Sometimes I laugh at the memories, other times I cry.

But knowing Jack’s saved four people’s lives gives me the greatest comfort I could hope for.

 

Wendy is telling her story to raise money for Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust.