Heart FM presenter Gemma Hill searches for a man whose life her late father helped save through organ donation
Heart FM West Midlands radio presenter searches for the man whose life her dad Keith helped to save through organ donation
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A radio presenter for Heart FM West Midlands is desperate to find the recipient of her late father’s liver after they unearthed a moving letter - sent more than 30 years ago.
Gemma Hill’s dad Keith, 38, died from a single punch on a night out in 1992 and his liver went on to save another man’s life. Gemma, 37, was looking through her dad’s photo album recently and uncovered a letter from a thankful man after receiving the organ prolonging his life.
The letter was from a man named Peter, who received Keith Hill’s liver, and was last reported to have been healthy in 1999. Peter had sent the letter to Gemma’s mum Linda in Liverpool shortly after receiving her husband Keith’s organ.
The letter read: “Hello, my name is Peter and I’m 19 years old, and I have recently had a liver transplant. Without this transplant, I have been told, I would not have lived the day out.
“I realise this letter has reached out in a time of grief, but I hope it will offer you a little comfort to know that the death of your husband has not passed by unnoticed. That by donating his liver, he gave me the chance to live, and for the rest of my life I will be grateful for the second chance.”
Gemma, from Birmingham, has now taken to social media with a desperate plea to find Peter. She said: “Last year at my mum’s I found an album that I thought was lost. It was full of photos of dad, little bits and bobs like a receipt with his signature on it, his driving licence and then this letter from Peter.
“He’d written it soon after he had his liver transplant - I’m not sure how soon after dad died that mum was given the letter but I imagine it was fairly soon. Wherever Peter was he was so sick that doctors had told him he may not have lived the day out.”
Gemma has struggled to get any more information as the hospital where her father died has now closed and GDPR laws regarding the NHS Blood and Transplant Service prevent details from being shared.
The family want to find Peter just to thank him for his lovely letter and to see how he is doing. Gemma added: “I’d like to do is see how he is and thank him for his letter because it must have taken a lot for him to write it to us. He must have also been through a terrifying and emotional time in his life,” Gemma added.
Gemma has had a huge response online with videos getting over 1,000,000 views and thousands of comments but has made little progress in finding Peter. She said: “I have moments where I worry in case he doesn’t want to be found, but that would be ok. I’d also like to stress that Peter or his family could contact me privately - if they’d like - and I wouldn’t make it public if they didn’t want me to.”
Gemma has been contacted by one person informing her that the description and timing of Peter’s could be somebody they know or knew in Cambridgeshire. She added: “Even if we don’t manage to find Peter, this is some good that we could take away from it. Hearing that from just one person would have been amazing but it was hundreds.
“Not only that, we’ve since heard so many stories from other transplant survivors who wanted to find their donor’s families and from other families in our situation. There are so many people who have lived through it and so many heroes that donated their organs so that others had a chance at life. It’s been truly humbling to hear. I’m truly grateful to everyone who has invested in our story and anyone who has tried to help so far.”
Gemma’s father Keith spent a week in intensive care after the assault in Liverpool, but doctors explained there was nothing that could be done. The family agreed that his organs could be donated to save the lives of others.
Four people received organs, including one man receiving his heart and lungs, and a woman, who received one of his kidneys, but both sadly passed away. But one other woman received Keith’s second kidney and was last reported healthy in 1997. If anybody has any information, they can contact Gemma on Instagram at @radiogemmahill.