Extraordinary story of how one teen’s death saved another boy’s life

Martin Burton died at the age of 16 and his family gave his heart to save the life of Marc McCay
Martin Burton died at the age of 16 and his family gave his heart to save the life of Marc McCay

An award winning story about organ donation written by an Eastbourne author and broadcaster will be told in a new live performance in the town.

And all profits from the premier of The Boy Who Gave His Heart Away by Cole Moreton at the Birley Centre in Eastbourne on Friday February 9 will be donated to the Donor Family Network charity.

Marc and his mother Sue SUS-180130-133141001

Marc and his mother Sue SUS-180130-133141001

Mr Moreton will use words, family photographs, images and music to bring to life what has been described as a modern medical miracle, involving a heart transplant between two boys growing up hundreds of miles apart.

He said, “This is the most remarkable true story I’ve ever come across. It’s a privilege to talk about these two boys, the love and sacrifice shown by their families and the great skill of the medics. And it’s a real tribute to the NHS.

“Marc is a promising Scottish footballer of 15, Martin a fun-loving 16-year-old in England. Both are enjoying summer when they are suddenly struck down by debilitating illnesses without warning.

“Within days, the boys are close to death. Although they have never met, their lives become bound. One dies, and without knowing it he saves the other’s life.”

Photo by Justin Sutcliffe

Photo by Justin Sutcliffe

Both on stage and in the new book published by HarperCollins, Mr Moreton tells the story of how the heart of one boy is taken from his body and transported by land and air to the other in a race against time.

But that is only the beginning.

It is extremely rare for those who receive organs to have direct contact with the families of their donors, but in this case a remarkable set of coincidences makes it possible, and against all the odds the mothers of the two boys meet and become friends.

Then comes the unique, bittersweet moment in which a mother who has lost her son meets the boy he saved.

“Reaching out and placing her palm flat against his chest, she feels the heart of her son beating away inside another,” said Mr Moreton.

“Her boy, the boy who gave his heart away.

“One boy died and saved the other’s life without ever having met him - and an amazing bond has grown up between the two mums as a tragedy has brought the gift of life.”

The event has been organised by Harry Farmer, a promoter of acclaimed national tours and events who also lives in the town.

Cole Moreton first told the story of The Boy Who Gave His Heart Away as a highly acclaimed series for Radio 4 which won Best Writing and Best Documentary at the World’s Best Radio awards in New York.

The paperback of The Boy Who Gave His Heart Away is published by HarperCollins and has received five star reviews

Mr Moreton said, “My mind has been completely changed about organ donation.

“I was squeamish, I didn’t want to talk or even think about it. But meeting the families of Marc and Martin and the doctors and nurses involved has made me realise how important it is for us all to talk about this now, while we can.”

Mr Moreton will be telling the story of The Boy Who Gave His Heart Away on stage in London, Belfast, Oxford and Cumbria in the coming weeks, but I want the people of Eastbourne to see and hear it first.”

Tickets are £10 on the night or £8 in advance from www.TheBoyWhoGaveHisHeartAway.com