HER son died when he was only 17 but ten years later a Hampshire mother could hear his heart beat again thanks to a brave choice.
A decade ago Julie Beston’s son Craig died suddenly while they were on holiday in Bodrum, Turkey.
Julie, 56, and Craig’s father, Bob, were given just an hour to decide whether they would donate their son’s organs to save another person’s life.
The couple decided they’d allow Craig’s organs to be used and his heart was given to a young Turkish man with a serious heart condition who had been given just a week to live.
The transplant took place the day Craig died.
Julie didn’t now the name of the 18-year-old who received Craig’s heart until the Turkish boy’s father wrote thanking them in Christmas 2006.
They heard no more for eight years until Tayfun Erdem, the donor recipient, contacted Bob via Facebook.
After two years of online correspondence Julie and Bob finally met Tayfun last month.
Julie, who owns a wedding dress shop, said the emotional meeting had helped her resolve a dilemma which which she had been wrestling for ten years.
As the transplant had been made so soon after Craig’s death doctors were not able to discover its cause and this caused Julie to doubt her decision.
Those doubts have now been banished.
“Until Tayfun came over he was just a picture and a name but now everything changed.
"I feel a peace inside now. I might have got my answer but in this way I saved a life and this makes me feel better.
"I couldn’t have had my son back but I saved someone else’s son and since I met him I have no doubts I made the right decision,” Julie said.
When she saw the tall boy at Eastleigh railway station she did not know what to do and went to shake his hand but Tayfun hugged her and both burst into tears.
“At that moment he was a stranger to me but I did not feel uncomfortable at all,” said Julie. “We didn’t need to introduce ourselves and we came straight home.”
When they arrived at Julie’s home, in Eastleigh, Tayfun suddenly started crying, stopped walking and just stared at the building.
He told Julie that many times in the past ten years he had dreamed of that house although he had never been to this country before, and said that he knew Craig’s bedroom was the first on the right just next to the stairs . He was right.
“That was bizarre. He said he felt he was at home,” Julie said.
When Tayfun asked Julie why Craig died and Julie explained the cause of death had never been discovered, Tayfun began to cry once more and hugged Julie.
Tayfun showed Julie his tattoo with Craig’s date of death and Tayfun’s new “date of birth” the day of the lifesaving transplant.
He said it would make his biggest dream come true if he could pray at Craig’s graveside.
Julie said: “I will never forget the moment he walked towards the grave. He dropped the flowers he bought and started crying. You could see from his eyes that it was truly what he had waited 10 years for.”
Tayfun, now 28 and an accountant living in Izmir, said: “I don’t know how to explain how important it was for me. It was the happiest and most precious time of my life. I cried a lot and it was peaceful at the same time.”
“I am very proud of what he did. He has made the most of his life. You could see how important it was for him to meet us and pray at Craig’s grave and that made me feel happy of what we have done,” Julie said.
Tayfun said he he was uncertain how Craig’s parents would react to him.
“But after I met them I felt very peaceful. Bob and Julie are my heroes,” he said.
Julie said meeting Tayfun made her feel better. She described him as “a lovely boy”, very similar to Craig as they both loved helping people and had a passion for music.
“However, they are still different,” Julie said, adding: “I have read a lot about families who donated their sons’ organs and they say they feel part of their lives but I don’t feel like that. Tayfun will always be welcome at my house and I felt very comfortable with him but he is still not Craig. He is another person – very similar but very different too. ”
Julie and Bob are now divorced but are united by Craig’s memory, and was there to meet Tayfun at the station.
Bob, 56, a former warehouse man, said: “It was a very emotional meeting. We felt consolation in knowing that Craig was able to do something good after he passed away.”
Julie gave Tayfun an album containing photos of Craig from childhood until his last days.
She also gave him Craig’s Saints football shirt, which was a perfect fit, and a donation for the charity for which Tayfun volunteers – Volunteer Clowns Izmir, which helps children in hospitals.
Tayfun has invited Julie and Bob to Turkey next summer and Julie said that she may go.
“After what happened I said I would never go back to Turkey again but the meeting with Tayfun made me change my mind so I will think about it”, Julie said.
Tayfun is planning to come back to the UK next year.
THEY will never know how he died and why.
When Julie and Bob decided to donate his organs an hour after Craig died, they have also been told that the donation could compromise the post-mortem investigation.
This meant that without essential organs it would have been a lot more difficult to find out why Craig died and how. Ten years later, there is still no answer for that.
Post-mortem examinations were carried out in Turkey and subsequently in Winchester but neither Turkish nor British doctors could find out the cause of death.
No signs of infections, virus, bacteria or drugs were found.
All that is known is Craig developed breathing problems and an ambulance took him to the hospital promptly. That was the last time Julie spoke to him.
Craig was admitted to intensive care in Bodrum and when Julie saw him later that morning she pleaded with him to wake up.
She could see from the monitor that his heart was beating faster at the sound of her voice. When Julie saw her son again in the afternoon there was no reaction.
Craig died two days later.