AMID the joy at Kostas Gribilas’ wedding, there will be tears in memory of a Sydney man he never met.
Mr Gribilas is alive today thanks to a heart transplant he received from 20-year-old Doujon Zammit, who died after being bashed during a holiday to Greece last year, The Daily Telegraph reports.
After recovering enough to travel from Athens to the country of his birth, Australia, Mr Gribilas will walk down the aisle with his wife (foto) -to-be Poppy in Sydney two days after Christmas.
It’s the wedding ceremony they thought they would never have.
And standing next to him during the ceremony as his best man will be none other than Doujon’s father Oliver.
Friendship between an organ donor’s family and a recipient is extremely rare. The two usually never meet.
But as it happened, Mr Gribilas’ details became public soon after his operation and he was among the transplant recipients the Zammit family met during a visit to Athens.
Since then, Mr Gribilas has become firm friends with the relatives of the man who unknowingly saved his life.
“I owe the parents of Doujon not one thank you but 1000,” he said.
Doujon was holidaying on the sun-soaked island of Mykonos when he was attacked in July last year, leaving him on life support in an Athens hospital but effectively already “dead”.
His parents made the agonising decision to follow his wishes and donate his organs, in the process leading to a massive rise in donor awareness in Greece and saving numerous lives.
By a twist of fate, Doujon’s heart was given to Sydney-born Mr Gribilas, whose partner Poppy was also from Sydney. Before the transplant, the couple were preparing for a large Greek Orthodox church wedding in Athens when Mr Gribilas became gravely ill.
With his health rapidly deteriorating they had a rushed marriage at a registry, but now they can have the ceremony they always wanted.
It will be an emotional moment for Oliver Zammit, who as best man will seal his place in the couple’s family.
Greek officials last week announced nightclub bouncer Marios Antonopoulos would face trial for Doujon’s murder on January 13 on the island of Lesbos.
Mr Gribilas, who moved to Greece as a 10-year-old, paid tribute to Doujon on his Facebook page.
“Today I live because Doujon was an organ donor,” he wrote.
(source: perth now)
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