Wed, 25 Jan 2017
A POPULAR Hungerford man who gave the gift of life by donating his organs has received a posthumous award.
Three people are alive and enjoying life today thanks to James Ballantyne’s insistence on carrying an organ donor card.
And Mr Ballantyne’s parents receive Christmas cards from each one.
Now Mr Ballantyne, who lived in Hungerford Newtown, has posthumously been awarded the Order of St John, which honours the gift made by donors and their families.
Mr Ballantyne was a well-liked barman at the Tally Ho!, community pub in Hungerford Newtown, and had been treasurer of Newbury Fencing Club.
He had a degree in electronic engineering and worked at Fuel Cell Systems in Hungerford.
He died, aged 23, following a car crash on the A4 at Halfway in July, 2015.
Mr Ballantyne’s proud mother, Catherine Hill, said: “James began donating blood aged 17 and carried an organ donor card.”
Following his accident, Mr Ballantyne was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital where Ms Hill and James’ father, Warren Ballantyne, were told to expect the worst.
The family spent an agonising night at Mr Ballantyne’s bedside, but in the morning scans showed that his devastating head injuries were incompatible with life.
The life-support machine was turned off.
Ms Hill said: “The next day the transplant team contacted us to say they had successfully harvested his heart, liver, lungs and one kidney.”
Although the recipients’ identities are not disclosed, the Ballantynes received letters from them and, last December, received Christmas cards from each of them for the second year running.
Ms Hill said: “There is consolation in knowing that, thanks to James, three people have lived to enjoy another Christmas they would otherwise not have seen.
“James was very open about his wishes and Warren and I want to encourage other people to be the same and to talk about it with their families.”
James’ parents now do advocacy work on behalf of the organ donor scheme in memory of their son.
They also got married on what would have been Mr Ballantyne’s 24th birthday and Ms Hill said: “We will always be bound together by the birth and death of our son.”