Honouring the greatest gift

Honouring the greatest gift Photo

Monday 27 Nov 2017

A commemorative stone sculpture gifted to Melbourne as part of a global initiative to remember organ donors and their families has been unveiled at The Alfred.

The Irish-led project saw stone candle sculptures unveiled at events in four cities – Barcelona, Boston, Cape Town and Melbourne – almost 50 years to the day since the world’s first heart transplant was performed in South Africa.

Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI) selected The Alfred as a location for one of their stone sculptures, citing the hospital has been a consistently high performer for organ and tissue donations, as well as a leading hospital for organ transplant.

Intensive care specialist and medical lead for organ donation at The Alfred and DonateLife Victoria, Dr Josh Ihle said the stone commemorative sculpture is set in one of the hospital’s gardens, and is a quiet place of reflection for many families, as well as staff.

“Having a place to remember organ donors is something I have long-been hopeful for, and I’m grateful to the Strange Boat Donor Foundation in Galway, and Organ Donation & Transplant Ireland (ODTI), for driving this global initiative,” Dr Ihle said.

Strange Boat Donor Foundation representative, Mrs Martina Goggin, said the events create opportunity to acknowledge society's appreciation and gratitude for the life-giving gift made possible through organ donation.

“Through these events we aim to increase global awareness of organ donation by reaching millions of people, and help establish a network that transcends national boundaries,” Mrs Goggin said.

Figures from DonateLife reveal Victoria had 140 deceased organ donors last year. Together, they transformed the lives of 406 transplant recipients, and contributed 28 per cent of deceased donors to the national donor pool. In 2017 (to October), the southern state has so far had 135 donors – again more than any other state or territory.

In 2016-17, The Alfred performed 96 lung transplants, 20 heart transplants and 28 kidney transplants; as well as more than 100 stem cell transplants for cancer patients.