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Sculpture celebrates those who give the gift of life

Friday, 27 December, 2019

A sculpture which celebrates people who have saved and transformed lives through organ donation has been unveiled at The Northumbria hospital.

‘The Gift of Life’ has been created by blacksmith artist Stephen Lunn to honour those and their families who have made this decision to help others.

Five words put forward by the families of donors – hope, chance, love, faith and cheer – have been incorporated in the piece which is on display in the restaurant.

The sculpture, co-ordinated by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Bright charity, also raises awareness of organ donation and the importance of people talking to their loved ones about their wishes.

There are around 6,000 patients in the UK in need of an organ donation and around 400 people will die without having received the transplant that could have saved their lives.

Since The Northumbria hospital opened in 2015, 44 patients have donated organs which have enabled 92 people to receive life-saving transplants.

Dr Rob Whittle, critical care consultant and clinical lead for organ donation at the trust, said: “Our sculpture is a lasting memorial to those people whose organs have transformed the lives of others and their families.

“We are extremely grateful to the families who generously contributed their thoughts and ideas and supported us throughout this process.

“We’d also like to thank artist Stephen for his incredible talents and everyone else who has enabled this project to come to fruition.

“While honouring organ donors and their families, we hope that it will encourage people to have a conversation with their families and friends about organ donation so they know what to do if the unimaginable happens.”

The unveiling ceremony was attended by families of donors including Richard and Linda Wheatley and their daughter Alison Murray, from Morpeth. Their son and brother Nicholas died in February, aged 46, after a massive bleed on the brain.

Whilst Nicholas never expressed his wishes about organ donation, his family said he was a kind person and they know he would want to help others.

“As far as we are concerned,” said Richard, “it was the right thing for us to do.”

He continued: “Nicholas’ loss still hurts as if it was yesterday however we remember his 46 years of life, not his death.

“We get some peace that Nicholas even in death has given hope and helped someone to live a better quality of life for longer.

“The recipients are in our prayers.”

For the last two decades, the trust’s Bright charity has developed an award-winning healing arts programme which uses art as a therapeutic medium to improve the hospital environment for patients, visitors and staff. For further information contact or 0191 203 1354.