How a 17 year old wish changed hundreds of lives
EIGHT months on from his tragic passing, Jake Gibbons lives on.
In October last year, the 31 year old passed away from brain injuries sustained during an abseiling accident at The Leap. As per Jake's wishes, expressed when he was 17, his organs were donated.
His parents Kevin and Tania Gibbons will share their story at a donors Service of Remembrance at the Clarion Hotel Mackay on Sunday afternoon.
While devastated by the loss of their son, Mr Gibbons said the family had drawn strength from the knowledge Jake had enabled others to live in his passing.
Five men received organs from Jake's donation, and his father said it was touching to know so many lives had been changed.
"We've used it as a positive for our grief of losing our son and that's the positive for the people who have lost their family and donated," Mr Gibbons said.
"It's positive knowing he's out there somewhere, helping someone else out - that's how we try and use it.
"We don't know who they are but ... there might be kids who have a father they can grow up with. It might be somebody who doesn't have kids who may be able to have them now.
"That makes us really happy ... we have something to be proud of. We were always proud of our son, but now we are still proud of him because of what he has done, even after he's left this world."
Sunday's ceremony will be one of reflection and remembrance, and is open to anyone that has been touched by organ and tissue donation.
Families who have donated a loved ones organs will be in attendance, as will those who have benefited from donors.
Mrs Gibbons recalled her son's generous nature - from his involvement with Vision Australia to his monthly donations to the Fred Hollows Foundation.
Of the five who received his organs, three had anonymously written letters to the family to express their gratitude.
Mrs Gibbons implored others who were unsure of registering to be a donor to get behind the cause, and said while it might seem daunting the rewards justified the action.
"Our youngest son (Shane) said when we were talking to the organ team ... it wasn't just five people, it was all their extended family and friends," she said.
"Jake hasn't just helped five people, he's helped hundreds.
"Everyone may have doubts over whether they are doing the right thing. I think it's the best thing to do."
The service will begin at 2pm in the Clarion's Marina View Room.