Tragic Cardenden biker’s family back organ donor campaign

Jill Polanski with daughter Bethany
Jill Polanski with daughter Bethany

A Cardenden biker who lost his life in a tragic accident earlier this year has helped save four lives after donating his organs.

And now his wife and daughter are backing a national campaign urging people to have a chat with their family over a cuppa and make their wishes known on organ donation.

Matt Polanski’s life was cut short after a motorbike accident at Knockhill Racing Circuit in August, but his wife Jill was able to honour his wishes to be an organ donor.

It was a hugely difficult decision that was made easier by a chat they’d had three years earlier.

Jill said: “When the accident happened, I was in the pit lane with our daughter Bethany who was warming up to race that day as well. As soon as I heard they’d sent for an air ambulance, I knew how serious it was.”

Matt was initially treated by the Knockhill medics before being admitted to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

The 32-year-old said: “I was informed of how serious Matt’s condition was and I just kept asking to see his helmet, over and over again. I knew it would show how bad things were. When I saw it, I knew that was it. That it was over.

“The neuro-surgeon then broke the news that the bleeding and trauma to Matt’s head was so massive, that he’d gone.”

Jill and Bethany, surrounded by Matt’s family and friends, were approached about organ donation.

Jill said: “I remember feeling very numb as the accident had only happened about three hours beforehand. But I knew Matt’s wishes and agreed instantly to donate all his organs, apart from his eyes. His family just looked at me, but I was able to tell them that I knew that’s what he wanted.”

The couple had first discussed organ donation when Matt was renewing the photo on his driving licence.

She continued: “I trained as a dispensing optician and have a medical science background so I knew how important organ donation was. A close family member of Matt’s has one kidney, so my view was very much that if anything happened to that kidney, he would rely on someone else giving one up.

“I clearly remember the discussion, and Matt saying he would have no objections for that very reason. He’d made the decision, all I had to do was honour it.”

Matt’s heart saved the life of a woman, his liver went to a man, his kidney and pancreas to a woman and a teenage boy received his kidney.

Jill said: “It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do, but I’m so grateful that something positive has come out of Matt’s death. I can see it from the recipients’ point of view and how they must feel knowing someone died to help them, but I’m planning to write to them down the line to let them know the comfort it has brought us as a family.

“Motorcycling is dangerous and we knew how precious life was. I’m just glad we took time to talk about what Matt’s wishes were and I’d encourage anyone to do the same, as with hindsight, it helped during that unbearable 24 hours. People have even come up to me and said they’ve joined the NHS Organ Donor Register as a result of Matt’s death.

“Although Matt was taken from us too soon, he certainly lived his life to the full and I’m a better, more rounded and accomplished person for knowing him.”