Hundreds of families from all over Wales will gather in Cardiff this week to unveil a stone in memory of loved ones who donated their organs and tissues to save others.
More than 200 donor families are expected to gather in Alexandra Gardens in the capital on Friday (October 26th) to see the unveiling of a 1.5metre memorial stone – a gift from the Kidney Wales Foundation, which last month launched a campaign to highlight the lives of those on dialysis and waiting for organs.
Colin Burgess from the Vale of Glamorgan, whose 33-year old daughter Louise died five years ago from a brain haemorrhage, who will be at the event says he feels immense pride that his daughter had carried an organ donor card and had signed the organ donor register.
When she died five years ago we felt numb, but what carried us through was the fact that we had talked to Louise and knew that she carried a card, he said. When it came to agreeing to donate her organs we had no difficulty in saying yes and I was so proud of my daughter. She gave the greatest gift that anyone can give.
I would encourage other families to talk about their wishes with each other and not just to carry a card but sign the register as well. That small act helps so many people, you as a bereaved relative, the transplant co-ordinators who are trying to save lives and obviously the people who will receive the gift.
Allison John, who was the first in the UK to have four major organs transplanted, and is leader of the People Like Us campaign said the event will be an emotional and personal one for her.
This event is to thank all those who have given their organs to save others. I know I would not be alive today if it were not for that generosity and for that I will be eternally grateful. This memorial is a chance for me and others who have been lucky to receive a transplant to say thank you.
Last year 51 organ donors and nearly 100 tissue donors from Wales helped save others after their death. One in four people in Wales have also joined the organ donor register, but many more are needed, with more than 400 people in Wales currently waiting for kidney transplants.
Gaynor Taylor from Barry whose son Richard, an inline skating champion died in a tragic accident, has helped organise the memorial. She also agreed to donate her sons organs and said it had helped to ease the pain of losing a loved one.
If I could do it perhaps others might find the strength they need, she said. To me it meant that Richard’s life wasn’t in vain and that some good came out of the tragic loss a young life.
Louise Collar, donor transplant co-ordinator team leader at the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, who is based at UHW said:
The transplant co-ordinator team in South and South West Wales felt that organ and tissue donors should be recognized for the gift of life that they gave to others. The memorial stone was merely an idea 10 months ago, but thanks to a lot of people including Cardiff Parks, it has now become a reality and is the first of its kind in the UK.
Cardiff’s Lord Mayor, Cllr Gill Bird, said: It’s a privilege for me to be attending this ceremony to remember those who have given the amazing gift of life. Cardiff Council was delighted to be involved in the organising and positioning of this special tribute Alexandra Gardens is a beautiful location for families to come and remember their loved ones.