November 17, 2017 / Feature Planning to make a difference

By Patrick Galloway (@pat11g)

The year was 1997 and a fit, stocky, 33-year-old landscaper was doubled over on the floor of his bathroom in agony in the early hours of the morning. He winced and cupped his hands over his stomach, trying to contain the excruciating pain. Such was its intensity, tears rolled down his cheeks as he desperately stared back out towards the doorway until everything, slowly went black.

The man’s name was Phillip Pike, or "Pikey" to those who know him best.

“First I thought it was food poisoning. It was like something was pushing through the lining of my stomach and soon enough, I was gone.” Says the now 53 year old.

After being rushed to hospital, Phil Pike was placed in an induced coma and doctors desperately tried to keep him alive. He had been diagnosed with severe pancreatitis and the organ that helps digest food and manage blood sugar levels had ballooned to near twice its regular size.

“When I woke one of the nurses told me I should buy a lottery ticket.”

Phil Pike's kidneys had been so severely damaged by the trauma, they started to fail.

The 53 year old says dealing with that news as a young man, was tough.

“You get depressed at times, wondering why this is happening to you. When I was undergoing dialysis, everybody would ask me when I would get the transplant I needed.”

“I told them it was like waiting for Tara Moss to ring you for coffee.”

Phil Pike and his Sportsyear Diary (Pic: Scott Ehler)
Phil Pike and his Sportsyear Diary (Pic: Scott Ehler)

Thankfully, Tara Moss eventually came knocking, seven years later.

“I used to have to do dialysis four times a day so it was always hard to work out a time to catch up with friends. One day I had moved my schedule around to see somebody - and the phone rang.”

Pike’s close friend Martia drove him to hospital where he was hastily prepared for transplant surgery.

“You do worry. You think, what’s going to happen, because if it fails, it is very worrying. You are pleased it’s finally coming but you wonder whether you are getting your hopes up too soon.”

Now, having undergone a successful kidney transplant, Phil Pike has a new lease on life and the likeable Sydney-sider is determined to ensure more people get access to the same life-changing organ transplant surgery.

“I am so grateful that somebody thought of someone else, when their loved one was dying.”

“I know people that have got to the hospital door and have been turned back.” Says Pike.

Pike started The Gift of Life Foundation and with the help of some leading business minds, he’s lobbying some of the Country’s biggest sporting clubs and bodies to encourage fans to make the pledge to donate their organs.

“You want to have the conversation before that moment of grief.” Says Pike.

Having recently met with the likes of the NRL and successfully supported a “wear your jersey” day to promote organ donation awareness, Phil Pike is getting just as much out of life as he did before that fateful day in 1997.

He’s never ever asked who donated his kidney and probably never will.

“I have not met the family. I would feel uncomfortable. What would you say to them?”

No doubt if they did know about Phil Pike, they’d be incredibly proud of their loved one’s decision.

John Gibbs, Patrick Galloway and Phil Pike (Pic: Scott Ehler)
John Gibbs, Patrick Galloway and Phil Pike (Pic: Scott Ehler)

Phil Pike has relied on the Sportsyear Diary to plan around his sporting passion for close to a decade. He's a South Sydney fan and enjoys the odd trip to Allianz Stadium to watch the Waratahs in action.

You can visit The Gift of Life Foundation here.