Loved adventurer's legacy lives on with organ donation
EVEN after his death following a tragic abseiling accident, a beloved adventurer from Erakala is helping others.
Jake Gibbons, 31, had his organs - including his heart - donated to five people after he fell and was critically injured while abseiling with a friend at The Leap, near Mackay, on Tuesday afternoon.
The keen hiker, computer whiz and budding historian, who measured an imposing 193cm (6 feet 4 inches), is remembered by his proud parents Tania and Kevin Gibbons as a passionate "gentle giant".
Jake died in Townsville Hospital on Thursday, surrounded by his family.
"He died doing what he loved to do. He was an adventurer," Mrs Gibbons exclaimed through tears.
"We just feel privileged to have had him for almost 32 years. He was just a remarkable human being. He was loving, always giving to the unfortunate."
Mr Gibbons described his late son as a "kind, giving sort of bloke" who was "funny, witty and serious when he needed to be".
"He was just a ball of knowledge, he said.
"Jake liked to trek, liked the outdoors. But he loved the indoors too. He was a gamer and built his own computers. He had a massive one at home," Mr Gibbons smiled.
Jake, who had a close relationship with his brother Shane Gibbons, worked as a machine operator at Daunia Mine in the Bowen Basin and had previously been studying at university externally to become a historian. He also previously worked in IT at Mackay Regional Council.
Jake's parents won't ever forget their much-loved son pulling into the driveway in his thumping V8 - though it was usually the heavy metal music echoing from the car that signalled his arrival.
"Jake would travel Australia to go to bands. I could hear him coming home from his heavy metal music rather than his V8 car," Mrs Gibbons said.
"He loved his family. Just adored his little cousins and they adored him. And Jake loved, loved, loved our dogs. Loved them.
"He was a kind, kind man. And I'm not just saying that because he's our son. If you speak to anyone who knew him, they'd probably say exactly the same."
Mr and Mrs Gibbons described the impact of their son's death as widespread.
"We've seen from far and wide what this has caused to a lot of people," Mr Gibbons said.
"We have a foster family from Russia, from the Chernobyl district. We call them our foster children - and they're both devastated at the loss of Jake. He was a big man with a big presence. People just clung to him."
Mr and Mrs Gibbons have had to constantly recharge their mobile phones since Jake's death as messages of support from far and wide just keep on flooding in.
Shane Gibbons, described Jake as "super protective" and "loving" and said he could not imagine a better big brother.
"He was the best big brother I could have ever had," he exclaimed.
Shane "couldn't emphasise enough" how important music was to Jake, who he described as a massive fan of live gigs.
Jake's parents also spoke of his pride in his Russian and Maori roots, and said their son had been planning a trip to Russia with his foster sister.
Mr and Mrs Gibbons were keen to promote organ donation, revealing that their son's decision to register in 2004 was a blessing after his passing.
"His organs have now gone to five people. It's enriched their lives and their father, mother, brother, sister, children - whoever it might be," Mr Gibbons said.
The couple encouraged others to sign up as organ donors, a process they described as dignified and uplifting in the midst of a very tough time (Phone Donate Life Queensland (07) 3176 2350).
Mr and Mrs Gibbons conveyed their deep thanks to all involved in their son's care, and to emergency service workers who did their very best.