'Amazing' 24-year-old from South Yorkshire donates brain to medical science

An 'amazing' 24-year-old from South Yorkshire has given hope to others even in his death, by donating his brain to medical science.

Thursday, 8th December 2016, 1:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:36 pm
Aaron Wood was president of his university's squash club

Aaron Wood, from Catcliffe, Rotherham, died on Sunday evening of brain cancer - sadly too soon to be reunited with his grandparents living in America.

An appeal to fly them over for a final farewell had touched the hearts of hundreds, with the fundraising page quickly surpassing the £5,000 target.

Aaron Wood with his younger sister Emily

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His mother Crystal thanked all those who supported the appeal, which she said had 'meant the world' to Aaron and his family.

She said the money would help pay for his funeral, with a sizeable sum, including anything over the £5,000 mark, going to the Brain Tumour Research charity.

"Aaron was amazed by how many people he knew and didn't know supported the appeal. We were overwhelmed by the response, and it meant the world to him," she said.

"He was an amazing son. He always brought life and laughter to family gatherings, and his motto was 'love is all you need'.

Aaron Wood with his younger sister Emily

"He was passionate about life and just wanted people to laugh. We've heard so many lovely stories from people about how in his first year at university he brought them out of their shells. There was never a dull moment with him.

"We've learned so much over the last few days about how many people he inspired and touched, and we're immensely proud of him."

Lauren Stevenson, who started the fundraising appeal, also paid tribute, saying Aaron had a 'special talent of making you feel like you had known each other for years'.

"He was so much fun to be around and always made everyone laugh, even in the last few days," she added.

Aaron, who was a talented squash player and had hoped to become a coach, was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 21.

He underwent surgery before returning to the University of Essex to complete his philosophy degree, obtaining a 2:1, and worked briefly for Currys' Knowhow technical support team in Sheffield.

Even after the cancer returned, he volunteered to help other terminally ill cancer patients while battling the disease himself.

Crystal said it was typical of his selfless nature that he was determined to donate his brain for research, in the hope it might save others.

"He thought if he could help one person not to suffer as much as he did it would be worth it," she said.

"It's very rare for them (scientists) to have a full brain to research, let alone one with a brain tumour in it, and a doctor said to me 'someone else has been given a gift'."

Crystal said the family hoped to raise awareness of brain tumours and planned to hold an event in Aaron's memory, though they had yet to decide what form this would take.

According to Brain Tumour Research, the disease kills more people aged under 40 than any other cancer, yet only one per cent of the total spent on cancer research in the UK is dedicated to brain tumours.

* Aaron's funeral will take place ar Grenoside Crematorium, in Skew Hill Lane, next Friday, December 16, 1.15pm. Anyone is welcome. His family has asked for donations to Brain Tumour Research, in lieu of flowers.