Wigan hospital unveils new organ donation memorial artwork to inspire reflection

A special and moving piece of artwork has been installed in remembrance of the extraordinary gift made by Wigan organ donors and their families.
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Commissioned using funds from NHS Blood and Transplant, the eye-catching archway at Wigan Infirmary is decorared with butterflies and forget-me-not flowers.

It has been designed by Hospital Art Studio, alongside a core group of donor families, the aim being to produce a lasting piece of memorial art to those whose own tragic deaths have often saved others or given them a new lease of life.

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At a special event held for donor families, a plaque was unveiled alongside the artwork and Julie Aubrey-Williams attended on behalf of her brother Mark – who donated his heart, kidneys and corneas in 2018.

Vikki Lloyd (left) Ann Joyce (centre) and Harry van de Bospoort (right) at the new commemorative archVikki Lloyd (left) Ann Joyce (centre) and Harry van de Bospoort (right) at the new commemorative arch
Vikki Lloyd (left) Ann Joyce (centre) and Harry van de Bospoort (right) at the new commemorative arch

Julie, who also works for WWL as a cardiology secretary, said: “We talk about Mark a lot, he was a young, fit man who had the funniest personality.

“When he was in hospital, the staff on the ward treated him with great respect, styling his hair and giving him different looks daily - even though he was on life support - which was just perfect to reflect his fun, cheeky nature.

“The decision to donate was easy for the family, as Mark was a completely selfless person, and although the process was emotionally tough, the Organ Donation and Transplant Team talked us through every step and helped us understand the process."

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Every year, thousands of lives are saved by the generosity of organ donors and their families but there are around 7,000 people currently waiting for an organ transplant.Every year, thousands of lives are saved by the generosity of organ donors and their families but there are around 7,000 people currently waiting for an organ transplant.
Every year, thousands of lives are saved by the generosity of organ donors and their families but there are around 7,000 people currently waiting for an organ transplant.
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During the event each family was invited to lay flowers and light a candle on the bench whilst the names of donors from the previous decade were read aloud. Each family was later presented with the plaque to take home, bearing the same flower as appears on the archway.

Vikki Lloyd, specialist nurse in organ donation for NHS Blood and Transplant based at the hospital, said: “Organ donation is such a special gift from donors and their families.

“We felt that they deserved this tribute to show just how much their truly selfless act in helping to save and enhance the lives of others really means.”

Harry van de Bospoort., from Hospital Art Studio who created the sculpture, said: “As specialists in creating organ donation artworks, we always love projects that allow create something so vibrant and uplifting.

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“We have employed forget-me-nots as their flowers traditionally carry a symbolic meaning of remembrance especially for those we have lost. Butterflies are a powerful symbol of metamorphosis, evoking a positive metaphor for the transformation donor recipient’s experience.

“The artwork draws attention to all the inspiring donors around Wigan and their supporting families. It was very humbling to meet some of the donor families at the official opening and see its importance to them as a fitting memorial to their loved ones.”

There are around 1,500 organ donors a year in the UK, enabling thousands of lives to be saved. Thousands more patients are waiting for an organ transplant in the UK and sadly every day across the UK someone dies in need of an organ transplant.

Organ donation saves lives. Please confirm your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. For more information, or to register your organ donation decision, please visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23