AN EMOTIVE dedication ceremony was held at the University Hospital of Hartlepool to encourage people to consider becoming organ donors by using messages from those affected by transplants.
National Blood and Transplant, which is responsible for organ, blood and tissue donation, asked every trust in the country to set up an organ donation committee to raise awareness and to increase the number of organs available for transplantation.
Health trusts were also asked to create an area in their hospitals where people whose loved ones have died and donated organs or those who have received organ transplants can leave messages.
At a dedication ceremony at the Holdforth Road site, relatives of both those who have received transplants and those who have donated organs gathered to help raise awareness and unveil an area in the hospital’s main corridor.
The service was attended by Judith Hume, whose late husband John donated liver and kidney organs, and by Cliffy Campbell, whose wife Jackie’s life was saved by a double lung transplant.
Mrs Hume, 66, of Hart Station, Hartlepool, who pinned a Hume tartan memento to the art display, said: “This is a marvellous way to encourage people to consider donating.
“I have received letters from the people who received John’s organs and they are so grateful to have been given a new life.”
Mr Campbell, 58, of West View, Hartlepool, whose wife needed the transplant because of hereditary chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said: “If my wife had not had the transplant she would not be with me today.
“I am eternally grateful. Organ donors really do save lives.”
Hartlepool Mail head of news Paul Watson, who was invited to the ceremony to represent the Mail, attached a card and ribbon to the artwork which read: “There is nothing more precious than the gift of life. Organ donors help to make that possible.”
A service was held in the hospital chapel before Ken Lupton, a non-executive director of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and chairman of the trust’s organ donation committee, unveiled the area where mementos can be left.
Students from Cleveland College of Art and Design’s Hartlepool campus were asked to work on the project and the work of students Julie Easley, of Saltburn, and Liz O’Toole, from Middlesbrough, was merged create the piece in the hospital.
Mr Lupton said: “There are families here who have lost a loved one but hopefully they can take some comfort in knowing that they are living on in others. I hope this artwork will, for them, be a symbol of that ultimate gift.
“In future I hope it will also be a place where those who perhaps would not be here were it not for the generosity of others can leave a lasting reminder of their thanks and appreciation.
“I also hope that other people who pass the artwork will stop a while and realise they are in the presence of something special.”
Clare Fletcher, an organ donation specialist nurse with the transplant service, who is based at the hospital, said: “We hope that this area will encourage people to consider becoming donors.
“We have a similar area at the University Hospital of North Tees and would urge anyone to take a moment of their lives to realise how important organ donation is.”