The Koster family  from left, Hannes, mom Magda, daughter Wihan and dad Johan  next to a plaque in the Pretoria National Botanical Garden for little JC, who died in a car accident 11 years ago. His organs were donated. Picture: Herbert Matimba

Johannesburg - JC Koster lived less than three months, but he saved two lives. “He touched more people’s lives in two and a half months, or one day, than many people do in a lifetime,” says Magda Koster, JC’s mother.

He died 11 years ago. Koster, her parents, JC and her husband were travelling from a holiday in Wilderness when they were in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Koster’s parents died on impact and JC was injured.

JC was her first-born and Koster was still on maternity leave when the accident happened.

“The following morning, they called us in and they said to us they have done some tests and the internal bleeding was brain damage basically, and they are going to switch off the machines,” says Koster.

They were asked if they had considered donating JC’s organs. Koster and her husband looked at each other.

“It was the weirdest feeling when they asked us, like someone throwing a bowl of cold water on you. We just looked at one another and we said yes. And afterwards, we wondered what made us say yes… It was a shocking experience because we had never thought about transplants before.

“It’s a very emotional decision. We just saw it as, you never know if you might one day have a child who needs an organ.”

JC’s liver went to a one-year-old girl and his kidneys to a six-year-old boy. Born with a kidney defect, the boy was already receiving dialysis treatment. After the transplant, his grandparents wrote to the Kosters saying that he was doing well.

The Kosters never heard anything from the girl’s family.

But four years later, Koster picked up a magazine in a doctor’s waiting room, and in it she saw the story of her son’s death, and of how his liver had saved the girl’s life.

“At that point, I was pregnant with my third child. It was quite amazing the message coming to you in that way.”


Today, Koster and her husband have two other children, aged nine and five, and they both know about their brother.

The Star