Dad who died at wheel left gift of life

DOZENS of families will be offered the most precious gift after relatives of a father who died in a car accident decided to allow his body to be used for medical transplants.

DOZENS of families will be offered the most precious gift after relatives of a father who died in a car accident decided to allow his body to be used for medical transplants.

Michael Francis, 44, of Winchester Way, Ipswich, was driving his Ford Mondeo along the A137 when he suffered a suspected heart attack. His car left the road at Wherstead, near the junction with Valley Lane, and crashed into a hedge.

He was taken to Ipswich Hospital by ambulance but was certified dead on arrival.

His wife Sonia met her husband, nicknamed Chick, at a disco when she was 17. She said she was left shocked by his death.


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Although she said the family had not yet made plans for a funeral, they have decided to donate Mr Francis's tissue, which could help up to 40 other people in desperate need.

Mrs Francis, 42, said: "We were told he died of a heart attack, which was a shock as he was so active. He phoned me and said he was feeling unwell.

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"He'd gone to play badminton in Manningtree for the first time, but he said he'd be leaving early as he didn't feel well.

"A few years ago the doctor said he had an irregular heartbeat, but there was nothing wrong with him when I saw him that evening and there was no problem.

"He was always on the go and active and was never ill. He worked a lot of hours, as he did shift work, but in his free time he was always doing something or another."

Mr Francis, who worked at Felixstowe Docks as a crane driver for 20 years, spent his spare time playing golf and snooker.

He also went metal detecting, but had found nothing much of value except some Roman coins, and had played football for teams in Essex and Suffolk. Mrs Francis said: "He liked going fishing too and had a boat in Felixstowe. It was a little motorboat and he would go out to sea and just sit out in the middle of nowhere trying to catch some fish. Occasionally he would bring one or two home to cook,."

Mr Francis was born in Mistley in Essex. He was a former Manningtree High School pupil and moved to Ipswich after the couple were married 21 years ago.

He leaves two daughters, Kellee, 19, and Laura, 16.

Mr Francis's parents, who live in Manningtree, flew back yesterday from Spain, where they had been on holiday.

They were accompanied by Mr Francis's brother Sean, of Brantham, and sister Maureen Hazel, also of Manningtree.

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