When 20-year-old Australian Doujon Zammit was bashed by bouncers on a Greek island in July 2008, his tragic story made headlines in both Australia and Greece. Doujon had sustained terrible head injuries and would not recover. His grief-stricken parents, Oliver and Rosemarie, honoured Doujon’s previous wish to be an organ donor, and Oliver became famous overnight in Australia and in Greece when he announced that Doujon’s organs would be donated to Greek recipients.

The day Doujon received his fatal injuries was also the day 31-year-old Greek Australian journalist Kosta Gribilas was given a death sentence in a hospital in Athens.

Critically ill with virus-induced heart failure, he was told he had only two weeks to live. Without an urgent transplant, Kosta knew he would soon die. He’d followed Doujon’s story on TV, and even as he watched Oliver’s emotional announcement, Kosta hadn’t thought he might be saved – the doctors didn’t want to give him false hope.

On 2 August, after an emotional farewell to partner Poppy and his family and friends, Kosta drifted asleep for what he thought was going to be the last time. A day later he woke up with Doujon’s heart beating in his chest and the life he’d longed for now ahead of him.

Because of the public nature of Doujon’s fatal attack, Kosta met Rosemarie and Oliver when they visited Athens. It was to be the beginning of an extraordinary, heartwarming friendship that would sustain both families through the dark days to come – a roller-coaster course of events neither family could have possibly predicted. Through all this, Kosta is constantly reminded of Doujon’s remarkable gift: “How can I ever forget Doujon, when every heartbeat reminds me how blessed I am?”

A beautiful, inspiring story about two families united by tragedy and how a selfless and courageous gift of love keeps on giving to this day.

Greg Callaghan is a journalist who has written feature and news stories for most of the major newspapers and magazines in Australia. He is the author of Bondi Badlands and co-author of Men Inside Out with Ian Cuthbertson. In seventeen years at News Limited he was a reporter, features editor and deputy editor of The Weekend Australian Magazine, and was an early adopter of video to enhance the art of features presentation.

Greg is currently deputy editor of Good Weekend, published every Saturday in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Greg also contributes long-form features to the magazine.

Ian Cuthbertson has had three overlapping careers. He was as a psychiatric nurse from 1975 until 1995, initially in large psychiatric institutions and later in senior roles at community centres in Bondi and Cremorne. He began his journalism career in 1980, writing freelance pieces for music magazines and women’s titles. Ian worked full time at The Australian from 2001 until 2013, writing on technology and arts, and for five years served as the paper’s television editor. He is also a musician who started performing in folk clubs at the age of fourteen. Ian has since performed in musicals, cabarets, choirs and rock bands. He released the solo album ‘Fathom’ in 2010.

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