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Organ donor families celebrate unveiling of sculpture

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A sculpture has been unveiled at the National Botanic Garden of Wales as part of Organ Donation Week.

The special event was held to raise awareness of organ donation, and to recognise donor families in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area and across Wales.

The sculpture depicts a Kingfisher rising from the water, representing growth, life and hope. It can be found in the botanical garden’s new pond project.

Among those who attended the unveiling was Jesse Lewis from Neath, who spoke about how organ donation affected his family after his son Jac sadly took his own life.

He said: “The final days of Jac’s life were filled with hope for us, and when that was taken away, I immediately thought about transplants.

“There are so many people out there waiting and hoping for a chance to continue living a normal life.”

Following this, Jesse and his wife Janet set up the Jac Lewis Foundation, a charity to help people suffering with mental health issues.

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He added: “It offers hope, and I think it is the ingredient that gives people the fight inside them to carry on.

“Nothing that has been achieved so far will ever stop the pain of losing Jac as anyone that’s lost someone so close will know.

“However, turning that pain into someone else’s hope, gives meaning to his existence, knowing that his life positively impacted on the lives of many others.”

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Rea John, Specialist Nurse at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Even though we have had an opt out system in Wales for almost six years, families will still always be consulted before organ donation goes ahead.

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“It’s important to make your decision known to your family and friends, so they know what you want to happen if organ donation becomes a possibility.

“Please speak with your family today, it makes it a little easier for them if they are ever in that position.”

The sculpture was designed by local artist, Paul Clarke, who used materials from Hywel Dda’s three counties to maintain the connection with the health board.

“It’s a tribute to thank the families who in their darkest times find it within them to support and help save the lives of others,” said Rea.

For every consented organ donor in the health board, NHS Blood and Transplant make a payment to represent that donor.

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This has raised more than £10,000 over the past year, which will be used towards the Scheduled Acute Care Services (ICU). 

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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