Jeremy Hunt, MP and Secretary of State for Health, visited St George’s last month (30 November) to find out more about St George’s as one of the leading Trusts for organ donation in the UK ahead of the Department of Health’s consultation announcement on presumed consent for organ donation today (12 December).

Presumed consent for organ donation means everyone is presumed to agree to organ and tissue donation for those requiring a transplant after their death unless they opt out.

During his visit to St George’s, the Health Secretary spent some time with our clinicians to discuss the consultation plans and hear their views.

Dr Ashleigh Sherrington, Clinical Lead for Organ Donation; and Alicia Hayley Bell, Specialist Nurse Organ Donation explained their roles in the organ donation process with Mr Hunt, before showing him our Tree of Life display.

Mr Hunt also met with three organ donor relatives to hear their personal experiences of organ donation.

Kathryn Harrison, Lead Foundation Trust Governor at St George’s, shared her story with Mr Hunt. Kathryn donated a kidney to her husband, Ian, in an operation carried out at St George’s in 2010 when Ian’s kidney function started to deteriorate from polycystic kidney disease.

She said: “As a living donor, I’m a huge supporter of organ donation and attend the annual Tree of Life event at St George’s every year as the Trust’s Organ Donation Committee Chair.”

Organ donation and our Tree of Life at St George’s

We have one of the highest rates of organ donation in the UK, with 29 families saying yes to donation during 2015/16 which saved a total of 76 lives – and even more were transformed from tissue and eye donations.

These donations help to save many more lives than this, with in some cases multiple organs from one donor used for patients who need them – so ensuring we maximise the gift made by deceased patients, and their families.

Our annual Tree of Life event thanks, pays tribute to and remembers the many people who donate life-saving organs and tissues at St George’s each year.

The tree, which is positioned on the ground floor of Atkinson Morley Wing at St George’s, acts as a permanent reminder of each donor’s selfless gift/s.

During the Tree of Life annual ceremony each year, donor families are invited to place an engraved leaf with their own personal message upon the tree.

The event traditionally includes talks from the Trust Chaplain, Specialist Nurses for Organ Donation, the Clinical Lead for Organ Donation as well as donors’ families.

Image caption: 

From left: Alicia Hayley Bell, Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation; Christina Colleer, donor relative; Dr Ashleigh Sherrington, Clinical Lead for Organ Donation; Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health; Jo Cox, Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation; Abi Essex, donor relative; Kathryn Harrison, Lead Governor and living donor.

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Pippa Harper, Media Manager, on 020 8266 6128 or