Retired gay footballer selflessly saves man’s life with a text message: ‘Can I give you a kidney?’

Stephen Laybutt plays in a match between the Olyroos and Nigeria

A retired Australian footballer has opened up about his remarkable experience donating a vital organ to a relative stranger.

Stephen Laybutt played for the Socceroos, the Australian men’s national football team, for 15 matches from 2000 to 2004. A devastating injury to his Achilles tendon ended his football career while he was playing for the Newcastle Jets in the A-League in 2008.

Now, the former footballer works with patients at the rehab unit at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Sydney to help them recover from surgery. That’s where Laybutt happened to meet Ian Pavey, who was on the transplant list waiting for a donor for his failing kidneys.

Pavey recalled in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald how he received a random, life-changing text from Laybutt on the afternoon of 28 February.

The message simply read: “Hey mate it’s Steve from St Vincent’s. I want to investigate if I could give you a kidney. Consider it please.”

But Pavey admitted he was confused by the sudden message, offering him a vital organ transplant. He simply responded: “Who is this?”

Pavey told the outlet that he didn’t realise how sick he was until after the transplant, when he began feeling “instantly well”. He added that Laybutt “never faltered” in his conviction to help another person.

Footballer ‘spiralled’ after coming out

Stephen Laybutt came out as gay after retiring from football – but quickly, things began to “spiral”.

“You think you’re going to come out and life’s going to be good,” he told the Herald. “I finished my career, then came out and I spiralled out of control for a while.”

He continued: “I was just lost, thinking everything would be sweet because I came out.”

But life got better after he met his partner, Michael Lutteral, in 2010.

He started working at St Vincent’s Private Hospital two years ago, he said, where he met Pavey. Laybutt shared that he liked Pavey’s “attitude” because he was “always positive”.

“I thought ‘I should help this guy”,” Laybutt recalled. “People have asked me what the thought process was behind it. I just thought it was the right thing to do.”

Stephen Laybutt of the Newcastle Jets runs with the ball during an A-League match against the Central Coast Mariners

Stephen Laybutt of the Newcastle Jets runs with the ball during an A-League match against the Central Coast Mariners on 7 October2007 in Gosford, Australia. (Getty/Corey Davis)

Laybutt told the Herald that after everything, he feels “comfortable in his skin now”. He shared that he’d sent a message of support to Josh Cavallo, who recently became the only out gay man in top-flight mens’ football.

Cavallo came out in an emotional video in October.

Football stars and fans worldwide have all shared their support for the young star.