London - It's a tale of extraordinary friendship, forged by two life-saving organ donations.
When Ella Murtha’s mother Tish died at 56 after an undiagnosed brain aneurysm burst, she decided to donate her mother’s organs to help others live.
Six months later she received letters of thanks from the family of Jane Holmes, 43, who received her mother’s lungs, and Teresa Saunders, 40, who was given a kidney and pancreas.
It led to them all meeting and forming such a strong friendship that they say they are more like sisters than friends.
Now Miss Murtha is even being tested to see whether she is a tissue match for Mrs Saunders so she can donate a kidney to replace her mother’s, which is failing. The 32-year-old, who lives with partner Paul Brown, 36, in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, said: "Jane, Teresa and I will always share a very special bond. The three of us share DNA, so they are like the sisters I never had."
Experts say they have never come across a case in which a donor family meets two organ recipients in this way.
Miss Murtha, who has a son Dexter, five, found her dazed mother at home on Mother’s Day in 2013. Doctors said a swollen artery had burst, and she was later declared brain dead.
Her daughter said: "The doctors explained they could carry out organ donation. I didn’t hesitate.
"Mum had been taken too soon but she could help others live."
So her heart, kidney, pancreas, liver, eye tissue and lungs were removed, and Miss Murtha was later told that all the transplants had succeeded.
She said: "She saved the lives of four women and the eyesight of four men."
Six months later she heard from Mrs Holmes and Mrs Saunders, and then at Christmas 2015 she received a card from Jane’s daughter Maisie, now nine, saying: "Thank you for letting your mum save my mummy’s life."
Miss Murtha said: "Words can’t describe how overwhelmed I felt."
The three finally got together last August. Miss Murtha said: "We got on brilliantly. It feels like we’ve always known each other." Mrs Holmes, of Hornsea, East Yorkshire, was in a wheelchair and struggled to breathe after being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension.
She said: "Thanks to Ella and Tish I’m now here to see my children grow up."
Mrs Saunders, who lives with husband Steve and son Alfie, eight, in Reading, needed a transplant after diabetes caused her kidneys to fail. She said: "The transplant saved my life."