Hospital commemorates patients who have donated their organs after their death

A Few Words: Hospital commemorates patients who have donated their organs after their death

People who donated their organs after their death have been commemorated in a new art installation at Southmead Hospital, funded by Southmead Hospital Charity.

The three-dimensional embroidery recognises the life-changing impact of having an organ transplant as well as the loss experienced by the families of organ donors.

The artwork features a cherry tree made up from quotes from the families of patients who have become organ donors as well as the recipients of organ donations.

The work, entitled ‘A few words’, managed by North Bristol NHS Trust’s Fresh Arts Programme, is situated in the atrium of the hospital building by gate 36.

Ian Thomas, consultant in intensive care medicine and clinical lead for organ donation at Southmead Hospital, said: “Organ transplantation represents one of the great advances of modern medicine and is a truly life changing event for transplant recipients. Yet without the altruistic act of organ donation, organ transplantation could not happen.

“This beautiful artwork perfectly captures the emotion associated with the organ donation and transplantation programmes here at Southmead Hospital and provides fitting recognition to patients who became organ donors whilst also acknowledging the impact it has on their families.”


The £5,000 project was funded through Southmead Hospital Charity’s Intensive Care Unit fund, Renal fund, Guy Jordan Memorial Fund and the NBT Organ Donation Committee.

Ken Pattison’s wife Jo died in October 2013 aged 65 following a brain haemorrhage. Her organs went on to help five people.

Mr Pattison, who lives in Bristol and took part in the A Few Words project, said: “We were both signed up to the organ donation register after seeing a previous appeal.

“Jo is very much still alive for us as a family, we talk and laugh about her everyday, but through donating her organs she is still alive in a more tangible way too.

“I think that Jo would be very proud, it is wonderful that five people have benefited from this dreadful situation and it has helped us as a family to know that.”


A Few Words is by local textile artist Penny Leaver Green who met with families of organ donors and the recipients of organs to gather the quotes for the piece, using layers of delicate silk to construct the embroidery.

Ms Leaver Green said: “In creating the work I felt a huge responsibility to present the words of the participants in a way which was accessible, inspirational and also respectful.

“It is an intimate piece with the intention that a viewer necessarily has to spend time reading the words carefully, but has an aesthetic beauty which has an immediate impact.

“The design of the piece complements the architecture of building in form and colour, as the act of organ donation is part of the fabric of the hospital.”


Jane Ibbunson, head of fundraising for Southmead Hospital Charity, said: “This beautiful piece of art captures some of the emotion around experiences of organ donation while also raising awareness of the importance of organ donation, and I hope, will encourage people to address their own feelings on this difficult subject.

“It is also an opportunity for Southmead Hospital to recognise the actions of those who have donated and encourage those that haven’t already signed up to the organ donor register to do so, helping North Bristol NHS Trust to be compliant with recommendations set out by the Department of Health Organ Donation Taskforce.”


Ruth Sidgwick, Fresh Arts manager, said: “A Few Words demonstrates perfectly how interpreting a difficult issue creatively can convey a powerful message with thought-provoking delicacy; the project has provided donor families and donor recipients with a unique forum for communication through art. 

“This was a challenging commission to which Penny has responded with sensitivity, making an extremely beautiful artwork that I hope will give our patients, visitors and staff an inspiring pause for thought – as well as encouraging them to sign up to the Organ Donor Register.”

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