By Paul Amy | Parkenham Cardinia Leader
On December 2 last year he dropped off his nephew Harrison at his sister Melanie’s house in Narre Warren South and stayed around to help with her baby, four-week-old Oliver, who was delivered by caesarean.
An hour later, the 18-year-old, who’d had his licence for 44 days, got in his ute and headed for home. He never made it to Cranbourne.
Not far from Melanie’s house his vehicle left the road and struck a tree. There had been a quick-descending thunderstorm and the road was wet, but investigators are unsure exactly what happened.
Shortly after the accident police visited Melanie Plant to make a road-toll call. “The knock at the door still haunts me,” she said.
Later that day, at The Alfred hospital, doctors told the Brennan family Mitchell had suffered brain damage and his injuries weren’t “sustainable for life”. Then medical staff raised the idea of organ donation. Given that Mitchell always wanted to be an ambulance officer, they agreed.
“We asked for an hour to get our heads around it, but in our hearts it was something we wanted to do,” his sister, Hayley, said.
The Brennan family remains shattered at Mitchell’s death.
They said he was a loving and popular boy who put his family first, especially since his father, John, died of a brain injury in 2005.
“He should have been starting year 12 this year, his life was only just beginning and has been cut short and left us devastated beyond words,” was how Melanie put it in an email to the Leader.
And the circumstances of the accident nag at them. Why had he braked 15m before hitting the tree? Had another car pulled out of a side street? How had he been injured so badly when the passenger side of the ute took the impact? And how could a collision involving such a small tree, a mop top, create so much damage?
But Melanie said it was a comforting thought that in death, he saved the lives of four people.
His heart, lungs, right and left kidney, pancreas and liver were donated.
A young girl received his liver and kidney, and a young father took his heart.
Sonja Brennan said her son gave people the ultimate Christmas present.
The Brennan family is continuing to promote organ donation and create community awareness.
This Sunday, April 3 at Keysborough Football Club (Mel 89 D9), Mitchell’s sister Chloe and her Keysy teammates will play Gembrook for the inaugural DonateLife Shield. Mitchell played for Keysborough’s Under 18s and supported the women’s side, for which Chloe his sister is team manager this year.
He went to training, helped in the canteen on game days and socialised with many of the girls.
About 80 per cent of the Keysborough players have already signed up as organ donors. Members of the DonateLife team will be at the Shield match to answer questions about organ donation and will have registrations forms. There will also be a sausage sizzle and raffles.
* To find out more about organ and tissue donation go to donatelife.gov.au