German coach killed in car crash during Rio Olympics credited with saving four lives

The heart, liver, and kidneys of the former World and European champion canoeist were donated to Brazilian recipients

Stefan Henze

Stefan Henze celebrating his silver medal win at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games in the men's canoe slalom [Lefteris Pitarakis / AP/Press Association Images]

With the 31st Summer Olympic Games finally over, after more than two weeks of sterling sporting achievement and even more diverting activity off the field, the focus is shifting to September’s Paralympic Games and Tokyo 2020. But the news has also emerged revealing that a German coach who died in a car crash in Rio de Janeiro has gone on to save the lives of four others thanks to organ donation.

Stefan Henze, a silver medallist at the Athens Games in 2004 and a coach in the canoe slalom, was involved in a fatal crash near the Olympic park in Rio at the end of the first week of competition. Taken to hospital, the emergency surgery carried out on Henze could not save his life and he died last Monday.

But some good news came out of the tragedy, with the German media reporting that as a registered organ donor, Henze went on to give donations to four other people in Brazil.

“Heart, liver, and both kidneys have been successfully transplanted. Thus he saved four lives,” a spokesperson from the Brazilian health ministry told German newspaper, Die Welt. The newspaper also reports that members of Henze’s family, who made the journey to Brazil after his accident, gave their consent for his healthy organs to be harvested.

The 35-year-old Henze was a former World and European champion and had been taking a taxi from the canoe slalom venue when the car accident occurred. All German flags at the Olympic venues were flown at half-mast during the week in tribute to him.

“Words cannot accurately describe what we as the Olympic team feel after this terrible loss,” said the president of Germany’s Olympic Sports Confederation Alfons Hörmann when Henze’s death was announced.

“We know Stefan’s own Olympic thoughts lives on in a lot of people,” Henze’s family said in a statement.

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