Vinnie Jones has said that his late wife’s heart transplant three decades ago “saved my life, not just hers”.
The footballer-turned-actor’s wife Tanya suffered heart failure after giving birth aged 21.
However, she received the “fantastic gift” of a new heart from the family of a 10-year-old boy who died in a car accident in Germany.
In an interview with BBC Inside Out, Jones said: “Tans had a transplant after her heart collapsed giving birth and we lived with that for ever more. It was a fantastic gift that we were given.
“If you kneel down in front of the pearly gates and say: ‘Give us five more years with her, give us 10 years’ – you take that. We had 32.”
Jones, 55, thanked the family who “gave us a new life”.
Asked whether the transplant had saved his wife, he replied: “It saved my life, not just hers.”
Mother-of-two Tanya died in July last year, aged 53, after suffering long-term cancer.
The Snatch star is backing a change in the law which will mean the majority of people in England will automatically be considered organ donors from May, unless they choose to opt out.
He said: “I think it’s fantastic. My feeling is that more people would want to donate than not donate so the turnaround is the better option. I know it’s going to save lives.”
It is estimated that the opt-out method, known as Max and Keira’s law, will lead to an additional 700 transplants each year by 2023.
Keira Ball, nine, saved four lives, including fellow nine-year-old Max Johnson, after her father allowed doctors to use her organs for transplants following a car crash in 2017.
The full interview will air as part of BBC Inside Out Yorkshire, on BBC One on Monday at 7.30pm.