Hospital artwork makes public statement about organ donation

Derriford Hospital installation recognises donors and their families

A spectacular art installation has been unveiled at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, as a public statement of thanks to organ donors and their families.

The Gift of Life Flower Seed Head, designed by Karen and Tony van de Bospoort of Leeds-based Hospital Art Studio, can be seen in the hospital’s main entrance foyer.

Martin Walker, chairman of the Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust’s organ donation committee, said: “The committee wanted to formally and publicly acknowledge the profound generosity of organ donors and their families who so kindly supported their decision by commissioning a suitable piece of art.

“The good omen that underpins this inauguration is the news that October 2015, when we were finalising our plans, was a record month for organ donations and organ transplants in the NHS. This means that a record number of lives were saved by transplantation and that a record number of lives were transformed.

“There is still a massive need for more donors and I think that what is crucial for anyone who signs up as a donor is that they talk to their nearest and dearest and tell them how they feel.”

The art installation has been funded by Plymouth Hospitals General Charity, Spring Intensive Care Charity, the Renal Research Fund, and senior medical staff at Derriford Hospital.

Made from stainless steel and acrylic, the design is intended to communicate the positive aspects of organ donation and transplantation to patients and members of staff and the public. The dandelion seeds are a metaphor for survival and renewal.

Alongside the installation is a plaque recognising the generosity and importance of the act of organ donation.

Jackie King lost her daughter Emily Gorman in 2005 and her organs were donated to others. Jackie said: “The artwork is a wonderful tribute to all those who gave the gift of life and symbolic of life flourishing for those whose lives have been saved or transformed as a result of organ donation.

“We all want to live long, happy and fulfilling lives and for most they are able to do this. Unfortunately, for some this does not always happen perhaps through illness or as a result of a tragic accident. My 11-year-old daughter, Emily, passed away 10 years ago as the result of a tragic accident.

“I have always felt passionately supportive about the subject of organ donation. However, I could never have imagined that one day I would have to actually consider the act of organ donation, but on the 17 September 2005 I was asked that question – would I consider donating Emily’s organs? I had thought long and hard about that question and knew that my answer would be ‘yes’, but did I know that was what Emily would have wanted?

“I thought about Emily and the kind of girl she was and knew that during her life she had always wanted to help those that needed help, giving her all to those that needed her. With this in mind, I knew that she would want to continue to do this long after she was gone and so she gave the greatest gift of all, the gift of life.

“Although she was not fortunate enough to live a long and happy life, she was able to give to others that opportunity – a life full of hope, health and happiness. My daughter’s act of generosity has kept on giving long after she died and words fail to say just how incredibly proud myself and her brothers are of Emily.”

Sean Carey, principal clinical scientist in the combined labs at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, donated a kidney to his older brother Julian in June 2013. He said: “From the donor’s point of view it is such a safe thing to do and there is no change in lifestyle. From the recipient’s point of view my brother has just come back from a two-week holiday which he would not have been able to have before the transplant and he is in full-time work, which was severely curtailed previously by dialysis three times a week and periods of illness.”

Tony and Karen van de Bospoort of Hospital Art Studio have been creating award-winning, hospital artworks for more than 15 years. Tony said: “The design provides a strong metaphor for survival – the seed heads being nature’s timepiece and the seeds themselves leading to regeneration, restoration and the continuation of life. It will provide a focus of attention in the main concourse and be a fitting tribute and recognition of the generosity contained within the act of organ donation.”

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