A GOLFER who achieved a hole in one days after his son has dedicated the chance-in-million sporting triumph to the gifted 26-year-old heart donor who saved his life.
Mike Hanlon, and his son, Michael, 20, hit the ace stroke five days apart and just over a year after the dad-of-three received a new heart.
Mike, 57,who is from Knightswood, was desperately ill at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank in March last year, when medics received a call that a donor heart had become available.
The donor was Ben Pedley, from Reading, also a keen golfer, who died two days after he was involved in a freak cycling accident on March 20 involving a pedestrian.
The other man was not seriously injured and an inquest made a recommendation that a pedestrian crossing should be installed on the road where the accident happened.
Ben, who was studying for a masters degree in Chemistry and was an accomplished pianist, had renewed his organ donor registration, just months before his death on March 22, last year. His organs helped save the lives of four other people across the UK including a toddler.
Michael is now preparing for an emotionally charged meeting with Ben’s family later this year after he was “blown away” to receive a personal letter from his mother detailing the 26-year-old’s significant life achievements. She told Michael it given her “great relief” to know that her son’s heart was still going strong.
Michael said: “I had put together my own letter to the family after writing about five drafts and the day I walked into the hospital to hand it in, the transplant coordinator said, ‘Mike I’ve got a letter for you from the donor family.’
“He had a degree in politics and a masters degree in chemistry, he spoke five languages, he cycled across the Pyrenees, he was a keen golfer and a light aircraft pilot.
“He had just renewned his organ donation, four months before this happened. He saved five lives. It’s just an incredible story.
“I sent my letter to them and didn’t hear anything back but there was a Justgiving page set up by Reading University where he was studying.
“They wanted to buy a baby grand piano in memory of Ben and a post came on from his brother Will saying he was delighted to receive a letter from one of the recipients. It was a toddler who received part of his liver.
“They hadn’t received my letter so I contacted his brother and explained who I was and the next day his mother got in touch with me.
“I sent them a card at Christmas and New Year and some pictures of us as a family, just as recognition of his selfless act.
“When you get the heart transplant you know how it came about but there is a part of you that tries to believe it came off a shelf in Asda.
“You are grateful but you don’t really want to think about it all the time. When you find out who your donor is it’s like starting all over again.
“It was Ben’s heart and I still call it Ben’s heart.
“It is quite emotional. It’s very very unusual for the donor’s family to send the first letter.
“I was blown away by it.
“Ben’s mum Jackie said she would love to meet up so that’s the plan. I’m not nervous just now but I think once we get to the point, I will need a box of hankies when I meet her.I get very emotional talking about it.
“She said she visits Ben’s grave every day and said it gave her great relief knowing that Ben’s heart is still going strong.”
Michael, who is married to Lillias and has two other sons, Sean, 31 and Craig,19, had only recently returned to playing golf after an absence of 8 years due to his ill health when he achieved a hole in one at Clober Golf Club in
Milngavie, earlier this month – just five days after his son.
He said: “There is always a Tuesday medal and my son was playing the fourth hole at Clober and he hit this five iron. We watched it go all the way and roll into the hole.
“The two of us were jumping about like wee lassies. It was his first year playing golf.
“All of a sudden within ten minutes it got round the whole course that someone had got a hole in one.
“Then I was playing on the Sunday. I said to the guy I was playing with, ‘you’ll neve r believe this but my son got a hole in one.
“I hit this iron and though that looks good and ran on but I couldn’t see because it was about 215 yards. The next thing, two guys at the fourth tee were jumping up and down.
“The chances of a father and son getting a hole in one at the same hole…there's probably more chance of winning the lottery.”
Three months after his heart transplant, Mike was chosen to launch the Scottish Government’s announcement in June last year, that it is to introduce an opt-out transplant system.
It means everyone is automatically registered as an organ donor if they have not ‘opted out’ of the register. The decision followed a six-year campaign by the Evening Times and legislation is currently progressing.
He is now enjoying living life to the full and about to start a new job in sales as well as becoming a non-Executive board member for the Clydebank hospital where his life was saved.
He said: “I had a couple of wee incidents of heart rejection in December,
“They kept me in hospital for a week. You feel like superman one minute, then superman with kryptonite the next.
“But I’m over that not. It’s fairly common in the first two years after receiving a transplant because your body just tries at every opportunity to reject the heart.
“Some people have said to me, you should be careful of doing this and that but I got given this new heart and I’m not wasting a second of my life.”