Even in death Stephen Coad is helping people, and that's "the epitome" of who he was, his cousin says.
Coad, 25, died after falling down the stairs and suffering a head injury at his Whitehorse home on Jan. 1. His family decided his organs should be donated — and they've since found out that six people have received transplants, thanks to Coad.
"The gift of life is the highest honour," said Doronn Fox, Coad's cousin and close friend. "He's given the gift of life to these six people, and right now they're walking around, breathing and happy and with their loved ones."
Fox said the decision to donate Coad's organs was a tough one for his family. Stephen had never made his own wishes known, so it was up to his mother to decide.
Fox said Coad's family talked about it, and agreed that Stephen's choice would be clear.
"In my heart of hearts, I know Stephen would say yes to it, 'I'm helping people'," Fox said.
Coad's mother agreed, and his body was sent to Vancouver to have his organs harvested.
Within a week, Coad's family received a letter from B.C. health officials, informing them that Stephen's organs — his heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas — had been successfully transplanted to six critically ill patients (each of his two kidneys went to a different person).
"The letter was actually phenomenal in helping with the grieving process," Fox said. "It made me smile, it made the family smile."
Generosity "was basically the epitome of Stephen," he said.
Fox posted the letter from health officials on Facebook this week, and it's reached thousands of people. He hopes it reaches some of the people whose lives have been saved by Stephen's organs.
"We just want them to know who Stephen was, and how many people cared for him, and how much we think about him every single day, and how much we loved him," Fox said.