A man who received a crucial heart transplant has had an emotional meeting with the mother of the organ donor who saved his life.

Mike Hanlon, 57, was critically ill in March 2017 when medics confirmed they had received a donor heart at the eleventh hour.

The donor was Ben Pedley, 26, from Reading who passed away two days after he was involved in a cycling accident with a pedestrian in March 2017.

And now dad-of-three Mike has met Ben's mum Jacquie Pedley - who has spoken of the relief of knowing her son's heart was "in a very good place” - for the first time.

Mike from Glasgow, told how the pair embraced "for a good few seconds" and said: “Sitting there waiting for Jacquie, I was so nervous but I feel elated now.”

Speaking after meeting Mike last week Jacquie, 56, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire said: “I feel as if a weight has lifted.

"It was something I had wanted to do for a while.

“The heart is such an important part of my son and I wanted to know it was in the right place.

“It’s been incredibly hard, I think about Ben every day.

"He was an extraordinary boy but I know that this is something that Ben wanted.

“Ben had said, ‘why would you not want to make good use of something you don’t need yourself?'

"That was his attitude. I desperately wanted to know that his heart had gone to a good place.”

Only months before his death the Reading University student had renewed his organ donor registration.

His organs were used to save the lives of five people, including a toddler after his family honoured his wishes by giving consent for donation.

Wiping away tears, Mike described the moment the pair met as "magic".

He said: “I was really looking forward to it but the last couple of days, you are like ‘what if we meet and we don’t like each other?'

"I was quite quiet in the run up.

"I’ve been desperate to meet Jacquie and it’s taken three attempts.

"It’s just been such a great day.

“I’m a very confident guy, up until I had my transplant I wasn’t really an emotional person.

"Now, watching Bambi makes me cry."

After Mike received his transplant and recovered, he took a letter into the Golden Jubilee hospital in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire for Ben’s family.

But Mike, who took five attempts at writing the note, was amazed to discover a letter was waiting for him from Jacquie at the hospital.

Their meeting was accelerated after Mike’s son Sean responded to a post on Facebook, written by Ben’s brother Will.

Jacquie said: “It was quite extraordinary.

"I was at the church sitting on the bench next to Ben’s grave and I hadn’t heard from any of the recipients, I was desperately wanting to know.

"My son text me to say that he had just received a message from Michael.

“I contacted Mike, and I was so pleased to think that that the transplant had worked and that Mike was doing so well.

"We started to very slowly chat to each other by email.

“We have now heard from the parents of a baby girl who survived and there is also a boy in his 20s who also survived.”

Ben was studying chemistry at the University of Reading before his death but was accomplished in a number of fields.

A grade eight pianist - largely self-taught - he was also a keen cyclist; athlete; light aircraft pilot; skateboarder; snooker player and golfer.

He had two Judo belts, he hiked and climbed, wrote poetry and was fluent in French.

Jacquie is full of praise for the staff at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, saying they went ‘above and beyond’ to make the transplant process respectful and dignified.

The mum was able to stay with Ben in the operating theatre, while his heart was removed, and for some time after.

She said: “In my heart of hearts I knew that there was going to be someone on the other side, waiting for the right decision to be made.

“This is not just one person, it’s ripples, its families.

“I feel very strongly the way things are going with organ donation, where people have to opt-out.

"I think that’s a great way to go but I think there does still need to be a role for the family."

Jacquie, who has now signed up to the organ donation list herself, added: "Ben’s heart is Mike’s but I do feel as if he is living on.

"To think that they could be going through what I’m going through, you just can’t imagine - I'm so happy for Mike.”

Mike, added: “I think about Ben every day and the unselfish thing he did and the legacy he has left.

“Five lives were saved because of what he did.

"Three people are dying every day waiting.

"For anyone who is thinking about signing the register, I would say to them, read this story."