Dad-of-three Sam Magee was a proud family man who loved nothing more than his wife and children.

But after battling serious heart problems all his life the 46-year-old tragically died while waiting for a transplant.

Heartbreakingly, he and his family had the call they so desperately wanted - that new heart and lungs had been found - at least three times only for their hopes to be dashed.

Unable to fight any longer, Sam died, surrounded by his family and beloved dog, in Febraury.

But that isn't the end of his story as the former lorry driver, from Kent, left an amazing legacy that could save countless lives.

Sam has left an amazing legacy after losing his battle with heart problems aged just 46
 

Sam donated his heart and lungs to the British Heart Foundation for research.

He also donated his corneas to research and they have given two men the gift of sight.

His proud wife, Philippa, said: "It’s a comfort knowing that Sam has left an incredible legacy to the BHF which will hopefully benefit so many other families in the future.


Sam was born with the rare heart defect Transposition of the Great Arteries, TGA, which meant his two main heart arteries were reversed.

This can lead to a shortage of oxygen in the blood and if it cannot be treated early, heart problems for life.

Sam and Philippa had been together for 15 years
 

Sam and Philippa met on a blind date 15 years ago after being set up by his twin sister, Claire.

Philippa said: "Sam and I hit it off immediately - and I soon found out he had three other ladies on the go.

"After our first date he went quiet on me and I just assumed he wasn’t interested. But then two weeks later he called me out of the blue and sheepishly told me he’d been seeing thee other ladies but that he’d now stopped and he just wanted to see me.

"I was quite shocked by the revelation but pleased that he’d done the decent thing."

Sam kept his condition from his new partner until they had been together for a year and he had to go into hospital to have his first stent fitted.

Sam and Philippa married in 2014 and their wedding was a real family affair
 

There were complications with the surgery and Sam ended up in intensive care.

It was then that Philippa started to get involved with his care as the couple were thinking about starting a family.

While there was little risk it would be passed onto their children, the couple were warned that Sam's health would start to rapidly decline after he turned 40.

Philippa said: "That’s exactly what happened. Once Sam hit 40 worry about his health became an everyday and constant thing for him.

"But he coped with his failing health amazingly and never really wanted to let on to us (or admit to himself I think) how ill he really was.

"He was quite poorly on his 40th and he knew that things would only deteriorate from then on."

Sam's health started to get worse when he turned 40
 

The couple married in 2014 - but his health was already failing.

Sam's eldest son, Jake was his best man, the couple's son, Finn walked Philippa down the aisle and daughter Molly was their bridesmaid.

Sam and Philippa were then dealt the devastating blow that his only chance of survival would be a heart and lung transplant.

However, they were also told he wasn't yet ill enough to be put on the transplant list.

Six months later Sam again had to be admitted to the Brompton Hospital in Kent after he collapsed.

In another blow, the family were told he would need specialist care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle - separating him from his wife and children.

Philippa said: "By then Sam’s heart was basically being kept alive by a drug called Milrinone which can only allowed be administered in intensive care."

He was fitted with a device that paced his heart into a regular rhythm but everytime it was knocked out he would collapse for a few minutes.

After returning home, Sam was transferred back to the Freeman Hospital in August last year and was finally placed on the urgent transplant list.

Sam was a devoted family man who loved being surrounded by his children
 

Philippa said: "It was such an awful and stressful time. The kids and I travelled between Kent and Newcastle as often as possible to spend time with him.

"That was so important for all of us. Sam’s eyes literally lit up and he seemed to improve every time we walked through the door.

"But Sam didn’t want the kids to stay up there all the time because he was anxious that they didn’t miss school and tried to get on with life as much as they could.

"Then I got a call from the hospital to say I needed to go in immediately as Sam’s kidneys were failing and they needed to get him on dialysis immediately. The dialysis seemed to work for a while and Sam rallied.

"The consultant told me that seeing the kids and me was the best medication for him at this point and he always seemed to be a lot better when we were there. Sam was such a family man and so proud of being a father."

Then came the news the family had been so desperately hoping for - a match had been found.

It was the early hours of a cold December night and while doctors were confident about the heart, they wanted to do further tests on the lungs.

Philippa said: "Devastatingly I then got a call saying the operation was off as the lungs weren’t in a good enough state to be transplanted.

"Although that was obviously a disappointment and we knew time was running out, it gave Sam a kind of hope that if they found another set of organs - a successful transplant could be possible.
"

Saam, pictured with his dog, had several false hopes that new organs would be found
 

Sam spent his final Christmas in hospital but ever a loving dad wanted his children to have as normal a festive celebration as possible and sent his family home on Christmas Eve.

But his health was suffering - Sam's kidneys were failing and he was in intensive care and on dialysis.

Heartbreakingly, there were more matches of organs but these were never suitable and each time the call came, only for the family's hopes to be dashed, Sam lost a little more hope.

Then came the news they had all be dreading - Sam was now too ill for a transplant to be successful.

Philippa said: "In a strange way, that was a relief for Sam. He told me that although he didn’t want to die, he wasn’t frightened of death and knew he couldn’t fight it anymore.

"We were allowed to bring him a McDonalds and a Guinness which he really enjoyed. At that point Sam was just being kept alive by machines so he decided to stay in hospital that weekend before going to a hospice.

"He really wanted to see his dog Maggie so my fantastic boss drove him all the way up to Newcastle.


Sam's last few days with his family were peaceful
A cast of Sam's hand is on the hospital's legacy wall

"Maggie (a Jack Russell/ Patter dale mix) and Sam had been inseparable – he’d got her to keep him company on long truck journeys when he was working."

Sam spent an hour with his dog and then the family had some time all together.

Philippa said: "Weirdly, the next few days were a lovely time for us all. Sam had come to terms with what was happening and wanted us all to plan his funeral as a family.

"Sam wasn't religious and said he didn’t want 'all the fuss and tears and flowers'. But I told him we needed to do what we needed to do."

Sam and Philippa planned the funeral with their children as they wanted to make sure it was a happy occassion that would celebrate his life.

Philippa said: "He told them they weren’t allowed to wear black but had to wear colours. He and Molly decided to have a white cake with a BHF logo at his funeral and the wake was to be at the theatre where we’d got married - so it had all come full circle with us.

Read More

Best selection of long reads from Mirror Online

"Sam’s dying wish was also that his heart and lungs should go to The British Heart Foundation for research to help other families in our situation.

"Sam had been in the hospice less than 24 hours when he passed, thankfully peacefully. We were all there and that morning he’d been playing chess with Finn."

The family are still involved with BHF and a cast of Sam's hand is now on the legacy wall at Brompton Hospital.

The BHF aims to raise £100million each year towards research to fund heart and circulatory disease to help families like Sam and Philippa’s.

The annual Heart Heroes Awards are taking place on September 20 at The Underglobe (Globe Theatre).

They honour fundraisers, children, adults and healthcare professionals who’ve done remarkable things to save and improve the lives of those battling heart and circulatory disease.

Philippa and Sam have been shortlisted for the Fearless Fundraiser award.

The evening will be hosted by Vernon Kay and attended by celebrity presenters including Glenn Hoddle and Penny Lancaster