Annual Tree of Life event recognises organ donors
This year’s Tree of Life event takes place on Saturday 1 July to thank, pay tribute to and remember the many people who have donated life-saving organs and tissues at St George’s over the last year.
A total of 76 lives have been saved thanks to 29 organ donors and their families consenting to organ donation over the last year – and even more lives have been transformed from tissue and eye donations.
The tree, which is positioned in Atkinson Morley Wing, acts as a permanent reminder of each donor’s selfless gift/s. During the event, donors’ families are invited to place an engraved leaf with their own personal message upon the tree.
The event, which is in its’ fourth year, includes talks from Trust Chaplain Clare Carson as well as donors’ families including Hannah Cock and Martin Scott whose nine year old son Alfie sadly passed away in April 2016.
Hannah, who is a Professor of Epilepsy and Medical Education at St George’s, said: “We have been humbled by how many lives Alfie touched and take comfort in knowing he is continuing to help others via organ donation.”
She added: “Losing a child is something that no parent would choose, but even in Alfie’s last day, and certainly since, knowing that he has helped other families in their times of need is a source of great comfort and pride for us. We received a ‘gift of life’ engraved with thanks from one of Alfie’s organ recipients which is now one of our most precious belongings.”
Kathryn Harrison, Organ Donation Committee Chair and Lead Governor at St George’s, attends the event every year and is a supporter of organ donation having donated a kidney to her husband, Ian, in 2010.
She said: “The Tree of Life at St George’s is a fantastic event for donors’ families to get together and share their stories. I am really honoured to be a part of not only the day, but also being the Organ Donation’s Committee Chair.
“Although I was a live donor to my husband, I would strongly encourage everyone to sign up to donate their organs when they no longer need them – it really is the best gift to give.”
Jo Cox, Specialist Organ Donation Nurse at St George’s, said: “This event is a lovely reminder to us all about how important it is to sign up to be an organ donor.
“We know that many families take comfort in knowing that some good came from their loss and feel proud that their loved one went on to help others when they died.
“One person could save or transform up to nine people’s lives – and even more by donating tissue as well as organs. It only takes two minutes to register, so I would urge everyone to consider it.”
Nationally, over 1,400 people donated after they died which saved or transformed the lives of over 3,500 people last year.
However, there are around 6,500 people waiting for an organ transplant across the UK and on average three people die every day who are in need of an organ transplant because there are not enough donors.
If you are interested in joining the 23 million people who have signed up to become an organ donor, or simply want to find out more, please visit the organ donation website here.
You can also support organ donation by joining the conversation on social media using the following hashtags: #OrganDonation #YesIDonate and #TimeToSign
Photo caption: Hannah Cock with son Alfie
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