WHEN teenager Sam Garstang suddenly lost his best friend Jordan Grant, he was devastated and numb with grief. He tells AASMA DAY why he played the part of Jordan in a short film and re-living the moment of his death.
As best friends since childhood, Sam Garstang and Jordan Grant were used to doing everything together and often following in each other’s footsteps.
But when Jordan suddenly died, Sam never imagined he would end up pretending to be his deceased best mate in a film and re-enacting his final moments.
Sam, 18, who lives in Fulwood, Preston, admits: “It was a bit surreal and strange at first playing the part of Jordan in the film.
“It was an emotional experience, as I was replaying a day I wanted to erase from my memory. The day I lost my best friend.”
Jordan, 17, who lived in Cottam, Preston, died unexpectedly in February last year, after suddenly suffering a cardiac arrest as his dad John drove him to his first shift at the Waitrose store at the Capitol Centre in Walton-le-Dale.
Despite his dad and paramedics working tirelessly on Jordan, he could not be revived. It was later discovered he had died from an undetected heart condition.
After Jordan’s death, parents Lisa and John honoured their son’s wishes for his organs and tissues to be donated in the event of his death as he had ticked the box on his provisional driving licence expressing his wishes.
Jordan’s tissues, including his eyes, skin, tendons and spleen, were donated helping up to 53 people.
Lisa explains: “Jordan talked to us about organ and tissue donation when he applied for his provisional driving licence. He told us that, even though nothing was going to happen to him, he was going to tick the box.
“He told us: ‘If something happens to me, I won’t need my organs and tissues, so if they can benefit someone else, that would be great’.
“As parents, it would have been wrong of us not to honour Jordan’s wishes. It also gave us some comfort to know something positive could come out of the tragedy of his death.”
Since Jordan’s death, Lisa and John, who have two younger children, have been campaigning to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation, and the short film which Sam appeared in as Jordan was produced by the bereavement team at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals and aims to promote the need for organ donation.
Sam and Jordan first met at the age of four, at Our Lady and St Edward’s Catholic Primary School, and instantly struck up a lasting friendship.
Smiling, Sam recalls: “I can’t even remember the moment we first met as for as long as I can remember, we were always friends. I do remember that in the early days, I used to call him ‘Gordon’ because I couldn’t say ‘Jordan’!
“But as we grew older, I started calling him Jordy.”
Mum Lisa fondly remembers how Jordan and Sam became inseparable, spending all their days at school together, as well as going to each other’s houses after school and at weekends.
Even when they went to separate high schools, their friendship didn’t waver, and they still spent a lot of their spare time together.
Sam says: “We ended up at different high schools as Jordy went to Our Lady’s High School, while I went to All Hallows in Penwortham, but we still saw each other at weekends and during the week when we didn’t have too much homework to do.
“We were into a lot of the same things and shared a lot of the same opinions.
“We were both into football and we played together in quite a few teams, as well as watching it together.
“I am a Liverpool supporter and Jordy was a massive PNE fan, and I often used to go on matches with him.
“In all the years we were friends, we never had a cross word or an argument.
“Out of all the people I knew, I knew Jordy was the one I could tell things to and trust him not to tell anyone.
“He was a very loyal mate.”
Sam says that losing his closest friend at such a young age has been a traumatic ordeal, and the moment when he discovered the harrowing truth will forever be ingrained on his brain.
Jordan died on February 4 2012 and Sam, who works as a picker at CPC in Fulwood, found out that same day.
Sam remembers: “I got a text from a girl who knew Jordy asking me: ‘Have you heard about Jordan?’ and then she told me that he had died.
“I looked at the text and just giggled a bit. I did not believe it at all at first, and thought the girl had just got her wires crossed and that it was all a matter of miscommunication.
“I asked her who had told her that, and then I got another text telling me that it had come from the sister of a close family friend of Jordan’s.
“I started to panic a bit, but I still didn’t want to believe it.
“I decided to give Jordy a call on his mobile phone. Jordy had a habit of never having his phone switched on so I half expected it not to connect.
“But to my surprise, it started ringing. However, he didn’t answer and it went through to voicemail.
“I became a bit concerned, so tried calling again, but there was still no answer.
“A few minutes later, my phone started ringing and it came up that it was Joardan. I felt relief flood through me and answered it saying: ‘Hiya mate. How are you doing?’
“But instead of hearing Jordy’s voice, it was his dad John and he asked me where I was and if I was on my own.
“I started feeling sick and asked John what the matter was, and he told me to go home and that he would speak to my mum and dad.
“By this point, I was running home, and I just started screaming down the phone asking my mum ‘what has happened?’.
“I asked her if it was true what I had heard and if Jordan had died and she told me yes.
“But even then, I still hoped it was all a horrible sick joke. I even hoped that Jordy was critically ill, as at least then there would be a chance.”
However, as soon as Sam entered the house, his mum took one look at him and burst into tears, and told him that sadly it was true.
Sam recalls: “I just fell on my mum and started crying. I felt helpless.
“I had lost my grandads when I was about five or six. But when you are that age, you miss them, but you don’t really understand death.
“Then when I was about 11 or 12, my nan died and I was gutted because I understood it more. But my nan had been really ill beforehand, so I had time to prepare myself.
“However, with Jordan, it was completely out of the blue. You don’t expect someone so young to die with no warning.
“For weeks afterwards, I would wake up every morning hoping it had all been some horrific dream.
“But each day, it would hit me that it was true, and that Jordy had gone.”
Jordan’s mum Lisa, 42, who is an assistant telecoms manager at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, became involved with the trust’s organ and bereavement committee.
Helen Bradley, organ donor co-ordinator at the trust, told the committee that there was funding available to bid for for raising awareness of organ and tissue donation.
The group decided to make a video, and Lisa suggested using Jordan’s story.
The short film tells Jordan’s story and re-enacts what happened on that day. The track Oh My Heart was donated by the band James.
Lisa and John play themselves, and they asked Sam to play the role of Jordan.
Lisa explains: “Sam was my first choice to play Jordan because he knew Jordan as well as did.
“Some of Jordan’s friends also took part in the video in the heart shape at the end.
“The film shows how we were a normal family getting ready for work in the morning, and then saying our goodbyes and then you see what happened to Jordan.
“It is an emotional story, but there is a positive message about the importance of organ and tissue donation, and about making your wishes known to your loved ones.”
Sam says: “At first it felt strange to be playing Jordan, and I was worried about how difficult it would be for his parents to relive that day.
“I feel very proud of the way Lisa and John have coped with the tragedy, and the way they have turned it into something positive for other people.
“I feel glad I took part in the film as it is all about raising awareness of organ donation.
“I am still sad about Jordy’s death and I will never forget what happened to him.
“There are so many things that Jordy and I had planned to do together such as going to concerts and football and going on our first lads holiday together. Even now, when I go to these things, it feels like there is someone missing.
“I valued Jordan’s opinion highly and I miss talking to him about things.
“He was a great friend and I will never forget him.”