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Family of Thurston rugby player Josh Gilbert ‘enormously proud’ of son’s decision to be an organ donor

Josh Gilbet (right) pictured with his friend Ed Ford. Picture: ED FORD

Josh Gilbet (right) pictured with his friend Ed Ford. Picture: ED FORD

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The family of a Suffolk rugby player say they are “enormously proud” that he has been able to help around 25 people through organ and tissue donation since his death.

Ipswich Town fan Josh was a season ticket holder for 19 years - he is pictured here with Tommy Smith at the Newcastle away game last season. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYIpswich Town fan Josh was a season ticket holder for 19 years - he is pictured here with Tommy Smith at the Newcastle away game last season. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Josh Gilbert was 25-years-old when he collapsed and died during a match playing for Thurston Rugby Club against Hadleigh in September last year.

The keen Ipswich Town supporter, from Walsham-Le-Willows, had made his wishes known to his family – dad Howard, mum Anita and brother Tim – before his tragic death.

Speaking to the EADT, Howard, 57, said: “It doesn’t replace him, but it shows not everything about his passing has been tragic – some good has come out of it.

“As a family, we had already had the discussion about organ donation and Josh was in no doubt that he wanted to help other people. He was always very clear about what he wanted.

Thurston Rangers and Sudbury RFC held a memorial match in honour of Josh Gilbert. Picture: STEWART AMBROSEThurston Rangers and Sudbury RFC held a memorial match in honour of Josh Gilbert. Picture: STEWART AMBROSE

“As parents, we didn’t expect to be acting on those wishes so soon, but we had no hesitation in carrying them out.

“Josh loved helping people when he was alive and it’s quite remarkable that he has been able to help so many people since his death.”

Mr Gilbert said he was pleased to learn that Josh’s corneas were donated to a 27-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman in the UK within a month of his death.

“We are enormously proud that he has been able to help two people of his generation, we think that’s quite incredible,” he said.

“The word legacy gets used a lot, but it’s a particularly fine legacy. We all know how precious eyesight is.

“Josh is in our thoughts every day in so many ways, he was a very keen sportsman who was immensely popular with his teammates.

“Since his passing, we have been able to see just what a popular young man he was and have received many lovely written tributes from his friends.”

Mr Gilbert said he wants to stress the importance of talking through organ donation with family.

“The nurses said to us that there is never enough tissue. The one thing I would say would be do those close to you know what your thoughts are?”

For more information on organ and tissue donation, visit the Human Tissue Authority on www.hta.org.uk or the NHS Blood and Transplant service at www.nhsbt.nhs.uk

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