Photographic tributes unveiled for organ donors

Posted on in Events, Hospitals, Services

Taking pride of place on the walls at The James Cook University Hospital are three photographs of people who have transformed the lives of strangers.

The emotive images are a tribute to patients who have selflessly donated organs to enable others to have life-saving transplants when there was nothing more could be done to save their own lives.

It is also hoped the photographic tributes, which were officially unveiled by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on Thursday 7 September to mark Organ Donation Week, will prompt others to discuss whether they would do the same.

Among those featured are Stevie Graham, 32, of Alnwick, who became a donor in 2014 after a road traffic collision, Liam Andrews, 17, of Stockton, who became a donor in 2013 after suffering a brain haemorrhage and Claire Gardiner, 30, who became a donor in 2012 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Liam’s mum Suzanne Davis said: “Liam loved life. This love lives on in others because he chose to give that gift by becoming an organ donor – he is our hero.”

Stevie’s father Barry Graham said “Stevie was a photographer, snow boarder, chef and adventurer as well as a great friend and mentor. It was so comforting to us, his friends and family, that his organs and tissues went on to save or improve the lives of five people, including giving a young baby and a teenager another chance.”

Claire’s brother Edd Gardiner said: “We will never forget that in her death she gave others life. We hope one day we will follow her example and give the same to save another.”

Last year 45 people in Teesside and 74 across North Yorkshire received lifesaving or life-changing transplants.

However hundreds of transplants are being missed around the country every year because families don’t know their relatives’ wishes.

NHS Blood and Transplant surveys show more than 80% of people support organ donation but only around 49% of people have ever talked about it.

Sharon Mitchinson, specialist nurse for organ donation at James Cook said: “These special photographs celebrate amazing families who have chosen to support organ donation and we hope they encourage others to discuss their wishes with their loved ones.

“If you want to be a donor, your family’s support is still needed for donation to go ahead, even if you are on the NHS Organ Donor Register – just talk about it!”

The photographs are displayed on main corridor at James Cook in the small atrium, next to the garden which contains the South Tees Trust Donor Thanks Giving Tree.

Sharon added: “By putting the images close to the Thanks Giving Tree it is hoped that the atrium can become a more reflective space and enhance the meaning behind the garden, the tree and giving the gift of organ donation which can transform the lives of strangers.”

For more information visit the NHS Blood and Transplant website at