Widow takes comfort after John’s organs save lives

Widow takes comfort after John’s organs save lives

25 March 2020

THE wife of a Teconnaught man whose organs were donated to three people after he died from a stroke has said that he “was everything” to her and his children.

Mr John Ferguson, who was 53 was laid to rest last Friday. He collapsed at his home on March 11 and was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he was cared for in the intensive care unit until he died on March 16.

His wife, Una, who is a local GP, and daughters, 17 year-old Rhianna and 15 year-old Caireen, learnt just hours later that three of his organs had been successfully transplanted.

Mrs Ferguson described him as “an amazing husband, father, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, friend and neighbour”. The couple had been married for nearly 20 years.

She said: “John was gentle but yet had an inner strength that frequently grounded and supported me.

“He would listen, have a frank and open discussion giving me different perspectives. When I made my decision, whatever it was, he was 100% behind me. He was loving, generous and fully family driven. He was everything to me and our family.

“Over the past few days I have heard this same deion over and over again, repeatedly describing John as one of life’s true gentlemen. That’s exactly who and what he was... loving, supportive, fun, loved family and life, couldn’t do enough to help.”

Mrs Ferguson said that it was natural that her husband would help others even in his death as he was such a giving man in life.

“John and I had spoken about organ donation in the past and we both agreed we wanted to do it and put our names on the organ donation register,” she said.

“Whenever we knew that John was not going to come through this, we decided we would carry out John’s wishes for organ donation. It was six hours later that I got a call to say that the three organs taken had been transplanted.”

She said that a fourth person may soon be helped through the donation of her husband’s heart valves. 

Mrs Ferguson said that knowledge helped her family ahead of the funeral service at Holy Family Church in Teconnaught. 

She said: “When you go down the route of organ donation, there are so many steps that can go wrong. We are just glad that there were three other people who were compatible with John’s tissue type.

“As a wife, not as a GP,  it was consoling to me that John continued to live in other people. It’s very hard to let someone go but John always helped people and always supported his family members, and rarely asked for anything for himself. 

“For his life to be cut short like that, it was comforting to know that he was able to continue to give. His life continues through his organs and I hope that they continue help the recipients over the years to come.”

Mr Ferguson, who worked in Nortel as an electronic engineer and was originally from Jordanstown, was deeply interested in history, literature and writing.

Writing under the pen name J D Ferguson, he combined all three interests in six novels which sell on Amazon Kindle.  The most well-known and popular was the trilogy, The End of the Valley, The Children of the Valley and The Heart of the Valley. The books were based on the highly competitive sport of downhill skiing in the former Yugoslavia that spans decades in the 20th century, including World War 2.

His wife said: “I always stood in awe of him and his accomplishments. John had such a warm and humorous personality with skills and knowledge to be able to talk to anyone about anything.”

Mr Ferguson was also an avid collector of a wide genres of music, loving everything from heavy metal to pop hits from boy bands — something his wife said that he enjoyed sharing with his daughters.

Passionate about sport, Mr Ferguson played cricket and captained his school and Cliftonville. He was also a devoted supporter of Ulster Rugby and travelled extensively.

Mrs Ferguson said that she had been “overwhelmed and humbled” by the depth of support and kind words offered to her and her daughters in recent days.

In the light of the coronavirus outbreak, she thanked everyone for their respectful and responsible attendance at her husband’s funeral last Friday.