A packed church with people from all over Australia farewelled Michael Campbell-Jones on Friday, April 24. Hundreds of people from his schooling, university, rugby and racing days were in attendance. However standing out from the crowd were members of the transplant community – a community his family said Michael was very passionate about.
The transplant community was privileged to be able to offer two insights into Michael’s life. Kevin Green spoke wonderfully and shared a few stories about his time with Michael. Michael Kennedy, fellow double-lung recipient and Chair of the NSW Committee of Transplant Australia delivered the following message:
‘My name is Michael Kennedy and I am the Chair of Transplant Australia in NSW and am pleased to be speaking on behalf of transplant recipients from across the world who knew Michael.
I would also like to classify myself as a good friend of Michael having attended many World Transplant Games and Australian Transplant Games with him.
All of us here today have wonderful memories of our good friend.
But these should not just be memories.
They should be a road map for how we live our own lives.
Michael was humble. He was graceful. He was unassuming. He saw the best in others and was never critical or a gossiper. He excelled in everything he did. What he lost in skill and natural ability he made up for 10 times over in passion and commitment. He did everything at 100 miles an hour. Many of us knew his as ‘the greyhound’. He jammed much into his short life – perhaps he knew more than any of us that he was only here for a short time.
He was the winner of many medals at transplant games in Australia and beyond. If he was in the field in your age category – you knew you were up for a good fight. It didn’t matter if it was athletics, swimming or ten pin bowling – he was passionate about all sports.
But come ‘the podium’ his way was not to celebrate with a song or dance but rather to take success in his stride. Yes, he was perhaps the most unassuming person I have ever met.
We grieve today because he was gone too soon.
In time I hope we all learn to appreciate the extra years we enjoyed with Michael because of the power of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. He never took his transplant for granted and made the most of life.
We will all be poorer for not seeing him at the games on the track or the cricket pitch – but richer for counting Michael Campbell-Jones as a good friend.
Breathe easy Michael.’
Many members of the transplant community wore their Touring blazers and formed a Guard of Honour outside the service.
Here is an earlier message from Jeff Sewell, former Chair of the Australian Transplant Cricket Club.
It is with much sadness that I write with news of the passing of Michael Campbell-Jones.
Michael, aged 40, passed away suddenly on April 15.
A long time representative of his State and Country in National and World Transplant Games, Michael also represented Australia on two tours of England as an integral member of the Australian Transplant Cricket Club.
Michael also represented the ATCC for many seasons in annual cricket events throughout Australia.
Before his transplant, Michael had suffered from cystic fibrosis, a dreadful condition that even can make the simple act of walking a step a thoroughly exhausting exercise. However, there was never any stopping Michael, an avid sportsman and a tremendous athlete, cricketer and footballer.
Once he had his transplant there was no way the rest of us could keep up with him. So quick on the cricket field was he, that fellow players christened Michael as ‘the greyhound’. But even more than Michael’s sporting prowess, was his friendship. A wonderful character who always had an entertaining yarn to tell. And he always had time to listen to others. It was always a pleasure to catch up with Michael. His greeting was always warm and generous.
Michael’s passing is a tragedy but his life was so full with joy that he enriched the lives of everyone who met him. His broad smile will remain with us.
As Shannon L. Alder wrote:
“Carve your names on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
Michael’s memory and friendship are truly carved into our hearts. The vigour and joy with which he lead his life remains as a legacy of a fine man and a wonderful friend to all who truly knew him.
Jeffery Sewell, Life Member, Transplant Australia
Transplant Australia will post funeral arrangements when known.