This joyful and precious photo of son Alex Pappos and his father Manuel captures the last and most carefree moment the two men shared during the 2017 AFL Grand Final in Melbourne, before an acute asthma attack took the life of the 41-year-old man.
The owner of the popular Slate Restaurant Bar in Melbourne’s CBD was a great sportsman who loved to play football and cricket, so one can only imagine his excitement to be cheering for his beloved Tigers, as they won the 2017 AFL Grand Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“I will never forget the moment between singing Richmond’s anthem when Alex turned to me saying that it was the best night of his life,” recalls his father.
Sadly, as the siren sounded, and the crowd watched Matthew ‘Richo’ Richardson hand over the cup to the 2007 premiers, Alex, who had quite possibly dismissed what during the game felt like a mild asthma attack, collapsed.
It took paramedics 17 minutes to revive him, but the Richmond fan suffered a cardiac arrest and even though he was brought back to life, his brain had been starved of oxygen during the ordeal.
Despite being announced brain dead, Alex’s family and fiancée Kammi remained by his bedside for six more days before they were told he was not coming back.
The news was devastating for everyone, especially his fiancée, whom Alex planned to wed in his parents’ hometown on the island of Kythera, in Greece.
The grief-stricken family farewelled Alex and decided to donate his organs.
“Knowing Alex’s generous and giving heart, and after consulting our daughter, Kammi and my wife Roula we decided that our son would have been absolutely ecstatic to know that his organs could help save other people’s lives,” says Manuel who has had some relief knowing that one little girl took his son’s heart and the remainder of his main organs are not forever lost.
“Although it didn’t take the grief and the pain of loss away, it was certainly healing to know that we have done something to save another life. We couldn’t be given a better gift than that.”
Alex’s family can appreciate that organ donation is a sensitive matter, since there are a lot of people not familiar or comfortable with the issue, but for them, giving other people a chance to life through their own tragedy was a way to turn a very traumatic and devastating outcome into something positive.
Organ donation occurs when a person allows an organ of theirs to be removed, legally, either by consent while the donor is alive or after death with the permission of the next of kin. Donation may be for research, or, more commonly, healthy organs and tissues may be donated to be transplanted into another person.
The Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) works with States and Territories, clinicians, the community sector and the general public to deliver the Australian Government’s national program to improve organ and tissue donation and transplantation outcomes in Australia.
The OTA leads the implementation of the national program in collaboration with State and Territory Medical Directors, DonateLife Agencies (one in each State and Territory) and hospital medical and nurse specialists in organ and tissue donation.
These individuals and organisations comprise the DonateLife Agencies network, which also host the annual Thank You Day events nationwide.
The day is dedicated to honouring all organ and tissue donors and their families.
It also acknowledges the work of donation and transplantation specialists, joined by many other health professionals, who care for donors, recipients and their families.
Last year alone, 148 Victorian families made the decision to donate their loved ones’ organs, saving the lives of 389 people.
“This is an incredible act of generosity, made during times of great personal loss,” says DonateLife Victoria State Medical Director Dr Rohit D’Costa.
Mr Pappos says that the amount of care and utmost respect that’s shown towards the deceased and their families during and after the donation process is remarkable.
“As far as the events go, they are just another special way for the family members of the donors as well as the recipients to meet and share their stories. It actually gives everyone a sense of belonging which is achieved through the mutual respect and understanding displayed by all parties.”
The annual ‘Thank you Day’ in Melbourne is scheduled for Sunday, 18 November.
To register to become an organ and tissue donor, and to find out more about Thank You Day, visit donatelife.gov.au