Journalist Ray Hughes, 'one of good guys', dies aged 53
Raymond Hughes, a senior Belfast-based journalist whose kidney donation saved the life of his cousin last year, has died suddenly at the age of 53.
Ray was from Coalisland, Co Tyrone, but had worked in the city for many years.
It is understood that he was found dead at his home on Wednesday morning, and that he died from natural causes.
Just over a year ago Ray told the Belfast Telegraph how he had donated a kidney to his cousin, 57-year-old Briege Dorman, a grandmother who had been on dialysis for six years while waiting for a suitable donor.
She said: "Raymond has given me my life back. I don't know what I would have done without him. He is a hero in my eyes. I just didn't expect it. It is such a big decision. I nearly fell off my chair when he told me."
For six years Briege had to undergo four-hour dialysis sessions three times a week, which meant a 70-mile round trip from her home in Coalisland to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.
However, Ray selflessly came to the rescue after watching his cousin undergoing such pain and constant inconvenience.
He said: "The look on her face was so sad, and knowing the gift I could give, it was the only decision I could take."
Ray underwent surgery early one morning last year at Belfast City Hospital when a kidney was removed.
It was planted into Briege the same day.
At the time Ray modestly rejected any suggestion that he was a hero.
He said he was embarrassed by the texts he had been getting from family and friends. He added that he had simply wanted to help his cousin to get her life back.
During his career in journalism he had worked as a sub-editor for the Belfast Telegraph and later at the Daily Mirror for six years.
He also edited the Ulster Gazette for a time, and most recently had worked as a sub-editor with Real-Time Editing and Design Limited. Managing director Terry Kavanagh said: "Ray was an extremely valued member of staff. We are devastated to hear about his sudden passing, and we would like to extend our sincere condolences to his family at this sad time."
A former colleague who had worked with Ray at the Daily Mirror for several years said last night: "Ray was a dedicated and passionate journalist whose professionalism and flair for language made him an asset to many newsrooms. His sense of humour and warmth touched everyone he worked with, including his former friends and colleagues at the Mirror.
"He was one of journalism's good guys, and he will be deeply missed."