Leading Welsh Charity marks 10-year anniversary of laying of Gift of Life Stone to remember all those who have donated organs to save lives
Kidney Wales appeals to individuals and families to discuss their decision on organ donation and for their decision to be heard
A leading Welsh charity is marking the ten-year anniversary of the Gift of Life Stone today, the first in the UK, with a re-dedication ceremony to remember those who have donated organs in order to save the lives of others from across the UK.
“Ten years ago we laid the Gift of Life Stone following an approach from two donor families who had lost loved ones –a Son and Daughter – after campaigning since then for those waiting for an organ transplant”, said Professor Roy J Thomas, Chief Executive of Kidney Wales.
He added: “We again thank those who have donated in the last ten years and rededicate the Gift of Life Stone in memory of those who gave selflessly in the last 10 years and state what a difference it has made to those now living a new life”.
Teddy Houlston from Cardiff lived for just 100 minutes and became then the UK’s youngest organ donor in 2014. His parents Michael and Jess Houlston said: “All donors are important, our Teddy lives on and we want to support other donor families in discussing this important issue. We strongly believe in helping others as Teddy has done.”
On the eve of the second anniversary of the implementation of the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 that introduced deemed consent for organ donation to Wales, hundreds of people will gather in Alexandra Gardens in Cardiff City Centre to attend a ceremony welcomed by the Rt. Hon Lord Mayor of Cardiff, to pay tribute to the individuals and families who have taken the decision to donate organs to give the gift of life to others.
Just under 50,000 people in the UK have endured the wait for an organ transplant in the last 10 years. During this time, over 6,000 people, including 270 children have died before receiving the transplant they desperately needed.
6,500 people are currently on the transplant waiting list in the UK. In the past 5 years, 505 families have blocked organ donations from taking place, despite the deceased being a registered donor.
Kidney Wales, who played a leading role in the campaign to change the law in Wales, are appealing to families to talk openly about their wishes on organ donation to ensure that the choice and decisions of individuals are followed through.
Colin and Betty Burgess, from Barry in South Wales, lost their daughter Louise 15 years ago, very suddenly at the age of 33. Louise had often discussed with her parents her choice and decision to donate her organs.
Betty said: “She was simply the kindest and most considerate person you could meet, such a generous spirit. We talked openly about important issues such as this, and it came as no surprise to me when Louise told us that she wanted to donate her organs, to help others in need, where she could. When she passed away, and we found out that she had registered to donate her organs, we wholeheartedly supported her decision without hesitation and were very glad to fulfil her wishes”.
Colin spoke at the ceremony to unveil the Gift of Life Stone in 2007 and will speak again at the re-dedication ceremony on 30th November.
Gaynor Taylor’s son Richard died in a tragic accident at the age of 23. Gaynor, also from Barry in South Wales, was a founder to the idea of the Gift of Life Stone 10 years ago. Gaynor said:
“We were very lucky – we made the decision to donate Richard’s organs because we felt strongly that this was the right thing to do. Within half an hour, we then found out that Richard himself had made the same decision, having already registered to donate his organs. It was a huge relief knowing that we were fulfilling his wishes. When you have just lost a loved one, it is the worst possible time to have to make that decision. If you have had that conversation beforehand, you are certain that you are making the right choice, on behalf of your family member. There is a huge difference between agreeing to fulfil your loved one’s wishes or having to give an answer on the spot – at the hospital – ‘Can we talk to you about organ donation?’ That is why it is vital that families talk about this and make their choices clear”.
Professor Roy J Thomas said, “More than one in ten waiting in the UK and on the waiting list will die before they get the transplant they badly need. More than one in four people waiting for lungs will die. Families should talk. We have a great record on this in Wales and continue to lead by example in the UK in terms of willing to donate and not opting away from the decision”.
The memorial stone, gifted by the Kidney Wales, was the first of its kind in the UK and, ten years on, continues to offer a location at the heart of the Capital for families from across the UK to visit and remember their loved ones.
For 50 years, the Kidney Wales Foundation has been at the forefront of kidney patient care, well-being and research in Wales. This work is only possibly through the generosity and hard work of their supporters. For further information on volunteering and fundraising opportunities with Kidney Wales, please contact [email protected]