Tragic Co Down teenager gives gift of life to four others

Cameron Baxter had qualified as a lifeguard on his 16th birthday
Cameron Baxter had qualified as a lifeguard on his 16th birthday

Tragic teenager Cameron Baxter, who died this week after spending nine days in a coma, has provided the gift of life to at least four people.

The 18-year-old from Castlewellan, Co Down, who was training to be an outdoor instructor, died as the result of a fall at Greenhill YMCA.

Kenny Baxter said it was an honour' to watch Cameron develop and flourish

Kenny Baxter said it was an honour' to watch Cameron develop and flourish

His family, who had remained at his bedside for the duration of his stay in Royal Victoria Hospital’s intensive care unit, made the decision to donate his organs following his death on Tuesday.

His father Kenny said: “Rosie, myself and his two sisters didn’t have a shadow of a doubt that he would have wanted to donate his organs.

“They found a match for his heart, his pancreas and his kidney. We were told his liver went to a man who had been given 24 hours to live.”

The young man’s death has devastated the community in which he lived, the same community that Mr Baxter said had “carried” his family since the tragic accident.

He said: “We’re in a strong place because of the support we’ve had. We are so thankful for the prayers and messages. We’ve been carried for 10 days.”

Cameron had become the UK’s youngest lifeguard when he gained his certificate on his 16th birthday.

He left Down High School in June and, like many 18-year-olds, he was not sure what he wanted to do with his life.

He started volunteering at Greenhill YMCA where his father is centre director, and it was not long before he enrolled on an outdoor instructors’ programme which saw him take up residency at the outdoor centre in Newcastle.

His father said: “He’d only been home two nights since June when he started the instructor training. He loved being there and had made some amazing friends from around the world.

“Cameron was never one for sitting behind a desk. He liked to be out and about, going on adventures.

“Being an outdoor instructor was a role that was perfectly suited to him. He came alive.

“I don’t think he had fear in him. He had the highest pain threshold of anyone I’ve ever known.

“All the years I’ve watched people come through Greenhill, it was an honour to watch my own son develop and flourish. I’ll never forget his big wide smile, he never had it off his face.”

He added: “Everything he wanted to do had to have a big element of adventure and excitement.

“His memory won’t be forgotten. He’s a star that’s going to keep on shining.”

The teenager was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital following the accident.

His father said: “We spent nine days in ICU – myself, Rosie and his two sisters, Ashleigh and Lindsay.

“His sisters were basically there 24/7 until the last two days when they came home for a few hours to catch up on some sleep. Cameron and his sisters were so close.”

Ashleigh, 23, plays rugby for Ulster and Ireland, while Lindsay, 21, has finished her degree at Queen’s University and is taking a year out with the intention of starting a career in midwifery.

Mr Baxter added: “He gave us a great 18 years. We’ve great memories. He’s had a wonderful life, particularly the last six months.

“One of his teachers told me they would never forget his ‘dancing feet’. He wasn’t a dancer, it was just that he never stood still.”

The teenager’s funeral takes place on Sunday at Castleweellan Presbyterian Church and his father said the YMCA would play a big role in the service.

Mr Baxter said: “Cameron would have been at Greenhill until September then he’d talked about going to another YMCA in America.

“He was also keen on joining the Army. Everything he wanted to do had to have a big element of adventure and excitement.”