Donor Hero: Matthew "Matty"
My brother Matthew “Matty” was born 11th June 1982. He entered the world in a rush and left us at high speed, living his dream – racing his motor bike, a Suzuki GSXR 600cc at Eastern Creek Raceway on 14th February 2017.
As a young boy growing up, Matty loved anything with 2 wheels. At the tender age of 3 our parents bought our first motor bike, a Pee Wee 50cc. Every afternoon you would find Matty riding the jumps and tracks our Dad built. As we got bigger, so did our bikes. Then when Matty was old enough nothing held him back to get his motor bike Licence. As a family, we would hit the road for scenic trips around the country side.
Matty certainly loved his sports from an early age. He enjoyed the fun of sports, the adrenalin and achieving goals. He would give anything a go and loved following in Dad’s footsteps. When he was 9 years old he started road cycling. Matty became so dedicated to his cycling that road racing wasn’t enough, so he tackled track racing as well. As a family, our Dad, Matty and I would head out for training sessions. It was always a race to see who would get up the hill first and of course it would be Matty with us hot on his heels. Over the many years of Matty’s cycling career, he won many state titles on the road and velodrome. Matty made everlasting friendships as he would always be the first to help if you were stuck on the side of the road with a flat tyre and no spare tube during a race or training ride.
After road and velodrome cycling came mountain bike racing. Matty competed in races that were over 12 hours and 24 hours. He went in races individually and at times in a team. Other races included kilometre and downhill races. Most mornings at the crack of dawn he’d be out training on one of his push bikes to improve his strength for the weekend of racing whether it was on the road or in the bush.
Other sports that Matty played included a bit of squash with our parents, swimming competitively and achievements in athletics. When he wasn’t competing, he loved to ride the surf in his wave ski. His passion for surfing started during the many trips to Crescent Head where our family had been coming to since Matty was 6 months old. Crescent Head became a magical place for our family, and from that time on we had annual family holidays there which were always exciting and enjoyable.
Matty’s love of water also extended to canoeing and kayaking. When Matty was 17, he and our Dad built Matty’s first racing K1 Kayak. Matty paddled in the State Schoolboy championships at Grafton and he also loved white water races. His biggest paddling achievement was competing in the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic 5 times in a double Kayak with our Dad. This is a gruelling overnight race covering 111km nonstop – just to finish the race is an achievement. Matty didn’t just take on the challenge of completing the race, his goal was to finish under 11 hours which they achieved every time. After many years of competitive kayaking Matty hung up his kayaks and hopped back on his push bikes. He got back into cycle racing on the road, at the velodrome and mountain bikes as well.
On a more personal note, the week before Matty’s accident our Dad was heading out for a training paddle when Matty asked Dad to put a Kayak on the roof of the car so Matty could join Dad on the river. Even though he had not done any paddling for years, within minutes Matty had the racing Kayak gliding through the water. He still had it!!!!
This paddle was one of many special things Matty did out of the ordinary during his last few weeks. Matty was also out surfing his local break that he loved so much at Crescent Head just days before the accident that killed him.
Aside from his many sporting achievements, Matty loved to share his life with family and friends, especially his best mate in the world – his little pug dog ‘Princess Gemini’. He lived for his Princess Gemini and they were inseparable. Gemini would come to the push bike racing events and cheer Matty on from the sidelines. Their adventures would also take Gemini to the beach for swims and walks. They really were best buddies. Every day when Matty would come home and park his car, Gemini would be sitting on his lap helping to steer it into the garage. But it didn’t stop there. Matty would put a towel on the tank of his motor bike and sit Gemini on the tank and would take her for rides around the backyard. The rides around the backyard became even more fun when we had a baby jogger that Dad and Matty converted to a side car and would attach it to the side of the motorbike. Gemini loved it and didn’t want Matty to stop.
About 2 ½ years ago Matty decided to get out on his motor bike at Eastern Creek raceway in Sydney to try circuit racing on his Suzuki GSXR 600cc. His motor bike was his pride and joy, every week you would find him in the garage washing and polishing his motor bike. Frequently Matty would head to Eastern Creek for practise rides. I remember when Matty came home from his first ride day, all he talked about was how much fun it was and all the new friends he made. Then it was on – he wanted to convert his road bike to a circuit race bike. Dad and Matty spent countless hours converting the bike. It was a great achievement they accomplished as a team. Matty continued many more practise training days; he was pumped and ready for racing.
Every afternoon when I got home, all I could hear coming from Mattys room was the sound of a motor bike. He would be on the internet watching anything and everything to do with motor bike racing. Matty was always honing in his skills.
Then came his first race meet. Matty had all the gear and was ready to race. Even though Matty loved speed, he would not exceed his limits and would take it nice and steady around the race track. As the race meet continued, Matty would try and improve his times from the previous race without exceeding his limits.
It was on 10th February 2017, on the day of my birthday that I got to spend my last day with my brother as a cheeky, happy and outgoing fella.
Together with our Dad, Matty was all packed and ready to leave early the next morning for a weekend of racing at Eastern creek race way, the weekend of 11th – 12th February 2017. The weekend was hot and even hotter on the race track. On Saturday 11th Matty got out on the race track and gave it all he had, improving his times each race. As the day went on it was getting hotter and so many riders where falling off in races that the committee cancelled racing for the rest of the day.
On Sunday 12th February 2017, as per usual Matty gave it his best in all races. Around 2pm I decided to give our Dad a video call to see how Matty’s racing was going, also Mattys dog Princess Gemini wanted to say hello. Dad headed down to the track garage so we could chat to Matty as he was getting ready to head back out to race. We laughed and joked around, Matty was living his dream. We watched him ride to the start line, he waved good bye to us as he lined up for his final race. About 30 minutes later my mother and I got the dreaded phone call from Dad saying Matty has had a bad fall and it doesn’t look good. Mum and I hopped in the car for the 2 ½ hour drive to Sydney.
On arrival at Westmead Hospital the Neurosurgeons told us that Matty will not survive due to the severe head injuries. We sat by his ICU bed for 4 days. On the 14th February 2017 at 12:34pm my little brother was pronounced brain dead. From that moment the organ donation team started the process. It was a long night. The next morning on 15th February at approximately 5am we walked Matty to the operating theatre doors and said our final good byes. It was devastating knowing that it would be the last time we would see Matty’s face.
The next day we received a phone call from the Donor team to tell us that 5 different people had received Matty’s organs. A 12 year old boy received part of his liver. We later received a letter from his family. A 37 year old lady received the other part of his liver. We have been lucky enough to meet her family, thanks to them making contact with us through social media and they also received our letter. A person received Matty’s heart and we have received a letter from them. One person received a kidney and another person received the other kidney and his pancreas. We have sent those recipients letters but have not heard from them as yet. I hope one day they are able to reply.
It was remarkable that about a week before Matty’s fatal accident, he and Mum were sitting on the lounge and what seemed to be very out of the blue had a conversation about funerals, organ donation and their personal wishes. Little did we know what was about to happen. It was Matty’s wish to help others and to donate his organs. Matty last amazing gift was to give life to others. During organ donor week our local newspaper, The Newcastle Herald, ran a story about Matty as an organ donor. It was an amazing article that touched many people.
So please, talk to your family to discuss each other’s wishes.
One of the ways we chose to celebrate Matty’s life was by scattering some of his ashes in the surf that he loved so much at Crescent Head. That magical place will always hold a special spot in our family’s heart.
Matty was an amazing, talented, caring fella who loved life, followed his dreams and accomplished everything he strived for. He was taken away too soon.
BORN TO RIDE 182