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Hospital unveils memorial sculpture in honour of organ donation

Organ Sculpture Nov 2019

A memorial is being unveiled at Darlington Memorial Hospital to honour those members of the local community who have donated organs at the hospital.

A stone memorial with brass hearts will be placed in the sensory garden in the grounds of Darlington Memorial Hospital in recognition of those patients who have become organ donations, and as a memorial for their loved ones.

Organ Sculpture Nov 2019

A short service is being held at the hospital tomorrow, Tuesday 26 November to formally unveil the memorial and which will be attended by some of the loved ones whose relatives have been organ donors over the past nine years. 

Paul Forster-Jones, a non-executive director at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the Trust's Organ Donation Committee said: "We are privileged to be unveiling a new memorial not only in honour of the 32 members of our community who have donated organs at this hospital since June 2010 but also to give thanks to future donors will also be given the opportunity to be named and remembered on the memorial. 

"From our very first donor, Alan Shelton a local man from Darlington who's family are here today, to donors from all across our region, donors from Darlington, Shildon, Bowburn, Shotton Colliery, Barnard Castle, Middlesborough and Richmond and other places, to our most recent donor a 29 year old young lady from Darlington, people in our community who make this the most precious of gifts continue to inspire everyone in involved in the service, doctors, nurses, and specialist surgeons and specialist nurses and the administrators and Directors of The Trust and the wider transfusion service. 

"We remain in awe of the generosity of the donors and particularly the courage of the families to see through their loved ones wish. 

"The 32 donors at this hospital to date have resulted in around 100 people receiving either life saving or life transforming operations. A further 200 people have also benefited from transplants from donors at our other acute hospital in Durham, so nearly 300 people have received a new chance at life as a result of the kindness of others from our community. 

"I believe these numbers reflect the inherent kindness of people from the north east and in particular in our local community. It is no surprise to me that given our shared history and stoic character that donor rates in the northeast are amongst the highest in the country. 

"However it's not enough and still, people will die whilst waiting for a transplant, and many others have to endure difficult and sometimes painful and distressing treatment whilst on the waiting list. 

"And so the donation service continues to encourage people to join the donor list. The service continues to treasure those who do sign up and the families who so often in the most difficult and tragic circumstances agree to implement their loved ones wishes and allow donation to take place. 

"The Trust decided to build a memorial to recognise and celebrate and remember these people, creating a place of remembrance and reflection where donor families can come and be reminded of what an amazing thing they did for others in need." 

The sculpture has been funded through the Trust's Charity and was commissioned from local craftsmen. The design was largely the transfusion specialist nurses and it is made from local stone, shaped and hand carved by Alan Richardson a local stone mason from East Hedleyhope, near Tow Law, the ceramics which will eventually wrap round the memorial and name the donor should the family agree have been hand crafted by Petra Lloyd from Croft and the cast signage was made by Philip & Andrea Shardlow a husband and wife team from Whitby.

 Samantha Ward lost her mum 12 months ago and attends the unveiling in recognition of her mum's wishes to be an organ donor. Samantha said: "We are here today in recognition of our Mam and Dad. 

"We left here twelve months ago without our special Mam - but just like our Dad had 23 years ago - she had made the decision to be an organ donor.  We are so proud of the lives we know they have both gone on to save.


"Mam would always joke and say 'when I'm gone I don't need it, so if there's anything worth having they can have it'. Even though we had talked about this and had agrees it with her, it still was the toughest decision to make when the time came. We knew though, that it was what Mam wanted and we wanted to honour her wishes.  Life doesn't get any better or easier it's just different. It has however made us appreciate how important it is to share your wishes with your loved ones no matter how difficult those conversations are.  


"We would like to thank all the transplant team and medical staff for the amazing job they do and all the help, support and care they provide every day.


"We are all incredibly proud to be here today to unveil this memorial as a way of remembering everyone who has given the gift of life to others."

The stone memorial is located in the grounds at the front of the hospital and the Trust is now working on plans to develop a similar memorial at University Hospital of North Durham.

Ends

Published 26th November 2019

'Care received was fantastic and I was very well looked after and very impressed.'

Patient, Day Surgery, Darlington Memorial Hospital