At twenty-six years old my world collapsed around me when I became a widower.
In 2002, aged just 16, I met my future wife Samantha. Sam suffered from Cystic Fibrosis – although you’d never guess. We married in 2007 after both finishing our university degrees; Sam studied to be a primary school teacher. We settled into married life and our careers and I began studying for my doctorate at the University of Oxford.
After a couple of years of teaching and a few hospitalisations, Sam’s lungs deteriorated to the point that she needed a double lung transplant to survive. We waited for that life-saving phone call and Sam campaigned tirelessly for organ donation awareness, even appearing on the BBC national news. I continued my research and studies, which I completed in 2012, whilst balancing being her husband and carer. We fought and waited for over three years for a transplant that never came. Sadly Sam lost her battle in April 2013.
I have always enjoyed painting, even using it to try to impress Sam when we were dating. When Sam died, I found that oil painting was, in a lot of ways, therapy in the midst of my heartache and loss. So in my numbness I began painting, channeling my grief and emotion into my works. It was a welcome distraction. I imagined that Sam was watching my paintings evolve and progress but I also thought about how Sam generously gave up her precious time to campaign to increase the number of organ donors. I felt that if I could exhibit and sell my artwork I could, in some small way, continue Sam’s valiant campaigning and to carry on her legacy. In that moment Art Transplant was born.