Organ donation sculpture unveiled in Trentham
The Unveiling of Beyond Ithaca
Submitted by Ffion Lovelock
Organ donor families gathered at the unveiling of a special sculpture revealed at Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire.
The bespoke ‘Beyond Ithaka’ piece was created by local artist Robin Wight and provides a point of reflection for families who have lost loved ones, as well as raising awareness of the difference organ donation can make .
The unveiling of the sculpture was featured on an episode of “The One Show”, with over 200 people attending the event.
National figures show that there are around 7,000 people on the transplant waiting list in the UK.
Last year, more than 470 people died while waiting for a transplant. It is hoped that the sculpture will draw attention to the importance of organ donation.
Myles Irwin was present with his 12-year-old son, Seth. Together they talked about his wife and Seth’s mother, Nicki Irwin.
Myles, commented: “Nicki died very quickly, within hours, but there are people waiting who have been on the transplant list for years and are in so much pain.
“Please think about it and donate your organs because it means a lot. It gives people hope, a lot of hope. It’s never a good time to lose someone, but Nicki made a huge difference.
“We received a letter about families whose children, siblings, wives and daughters had benefited from Nicki’s organs, who can continue to live off of them today.”
Seth bravely read the poem “Ithaka” as part of the ceremony in a very moving tribute to his mother and all the donor families.
Speaking to his father, he said: “Organ donation makes a big difference because it helps other people in their lives and gives them the opportunity to do so. It makes people live. »
Derrick and Rose Burgess traveled from Northamptonshire to celebrate the memory of their son Philip James Long, who was just 36 when he died.
Rose said, “The sculpture is absolutely stunning. It makes so much sense. It’s the fact that families who donated organs can come here and reflect and have some peace.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) nurse specialists – based at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) – helped organize the event and were on hand throughout the day to support families.
Kirsty Lazenby, an organ donation and transplant nurse for NHS Blood and Transplantation, said: ‘Because of Covid, many families have not had the opportunity to be together when loved ones are passed away, so it really gave them their first chance to properly grieve together.
“Every single person who has become a donor has died in sudden and/or traumatic events, so it was very difficult for people, but each of our donor families are amazing.
“The event was extremely emotional for the family members and for us. We believe this sculpture will provide a beautiful and dignified place for people to remember loved ones who have donated or received an organ.
“We also want to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation and we think this will be a great conversation starter.
“Since April 2021, 3,121 people have received a transplant. It really highlights the need for people to sign up.
In May 2020, the law in England was changed to an ‘opt-out’ system, where a person is required to state specifically if they do not wish to donate their organs.
Kirsty continued, “It is our job to make organ donation easier and to do this we educate and encourage people to make their wishes known.
“Before the law changed, many families struggled to make the decision because they didn’t know what their loved ones wanted, but thanks to the ‘withdrawal’ change, we can now confidently assume that those who have died have supported the process, unless they inform us otherwise.
“It has made things much easier and simpler for families and for clinicians.”
“A hospital isn’t always the most appropriate place to have something like this, as being there can bring back very painful memories for people, so we were absolutely delighted when the Trentham team agreed to work with us.”
The sculpture will be a permanent fixture in Trentham.
Robin Wight, known for creating the ‘fairy sculptures’ in Trentham, is the artist and designer behind the project.
Robin said: ‘When I was asked if I would consider commissioning a sculpture for the NHS, I was doubly honored and delighted.
“To be interviewed in the first place is a great compliment, and we all owe the NHS a debt of gratitude and our full support. I was a little nervous about the project, but only because I want it to have the impact desired to raise public awareness of such a noble cause.
Alastair Budd, Director of Trentham, comments: “Trentham holds special memories for many and its beautiful and peaceful grounds make it an ideal place to reflect and remember loved ones.
“Robin’s work is truly spectacular and we are very proud to have partnered with the NHS Royal Stoke Hospital to create a meaningful memorial for loved ones of organ donors, as well as creating an important talking point for all of our visitors. “
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