THE heart of Australian youth Doujon Zammit, killed in a night club attack last month, is now ticking inside a Greek-Australian TV reporter.
The 20-year-old Zammit had been thrashed to death on the tourist resort of Mykonos in Greece. The recipient of his heart has expressed his profound gratitude to the Zammit family, and the transplant could be said to have given organ donation a big boost in Greece.
After the vicious attack that stunned many in Greece and Australia, the Zammit family magnanimously came forward to donate the boy's organs, heart, kidneys, liver and lungs. The organs were left behind in the hospital where Doujon died of injuries on Aug.1.
31-year-old Kostas Gribilas who received Doujon's heart said, "I owe his parent not one thank you but a thousand thanks."
Zammit's father Oliver last week returned to Greece to meet the recipients of his son's organs. He told Gribilas he believed his son was in heavan.
"Doujon can go to heaven without all his body parts his father told me, and I am sure Doujon went to heaven," said an emotional Gribilas.
"I was living a perfectly normal life for 30 years, and one day everything changed in the space of a minute. In a second everything was wiped out, things of the past no longer had any value.
The doctors' phrase "insufficient cardiac function" took on the guise of a ghost and started to haunt my life," he said in an interview.
He knew he was living on borrowed time, and organ donations in Greece were hard to come by.
Indeed, heart donations are rare. He married his long-time girlfriend earlier this year and began to say his goodbyes. His artificial heart had exceeded its life expectancy of six months.
But Zammit family's decision changed it all. He can now confidently look forward to a decade and more of relatively normal life. Doctors said 75 per cent of heart transplant patients lived an average 12 years and beyond.
Since Zammit's death organ donations in Greece, which has one of the lowest rates in Europe, increased.
Dr Petros Alivizatos, head of the transplant program at Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre, said yesterday: "The unfair loss of the young Australian seems to have acted as a catalyst in the increase of transplants, where long term efforts and a change in legislation did not seem to have an effect. It succeeded in appealing to the emotions of the Greeks who reacted favourably to the generosity of the Australian father Oliver."