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24 February 2020

Proud daughters praise artwork honouring organ donation following mum’s gift of life


Two sisters who lost their mum suddenly have hailed the unveiling of new artwork at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals which celebrates the gift of organ donation. Tara Clayton and Rachael Oxley’s mum, Gail Oxley sadly passed away three years ago, aged just 52, due to a large intracranial haemorrhage.

As her next of kin, the sisters made the brave decision to donate Gail’s organs to help save and improve the lives of others in need.
Tara, who works as a Radiographer at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital where artwork has been unveiled, said: “Our mum was unreservedly caring, compassionate with words of wisdom, help and assistance to anyone who needed it. She was a leader, strong and independent. We all had so much respect for her and I always knew I would install good morals and traits into my own children with the help and assistance of my mum.”

“I never imagined a life without her, but there we were on 2nd January 2017. The doctors in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit explained the mum we knew was no longer with us and the hope we had been hanging onto was gone. My mum was declared brain stem dead following a large intracranial haemorrhage.”

“We never expected to lose our mum at the young age of 52 and so suddenly, it was a huge shock to all of us. But with the help from all the NHS Blood and Transplant Team we realised we could change other people’s lives and give others more time with their loved ones. The time that we couldn’t have.”

“The following day was spent holding onto every part of her, talking to her, singing, taking strands of hair, hand prints, recalling memories, smelling her scent whilst the organ donation team found recipients for her much loved organs. She left us on Jan 4th 2017, heart still beating, still warm, rosy cheeks. Our hearts were broken. Our lives changed forever.”

“We were invited to the opening of the memorial organ donation artwork, which really showcased our journey as a donor family from start to now. We were lucky we knew our mums wishes and we knew how selfless she was in life so the decision of donation was made easier knowing this.”

‘Forever Grateful’, which has been designed and produced by artist Stella Corrall, embraces the varying aspects of organ donation, from those in need, those wishing to give and those who have had lives transformed as well as the medical professionals involved in the journey. All of these aspects overlap into one another and the intersecting circles of the design embrace this with each one acknowledging heartfelt words.


The Organ Donation Team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals hope the piece will raise awareness of organ donation, themed around the concept of the ‘gift of life’, and think about their end of life wishes. A plaque installed alongside the artwork encourages people to think about organ donation and directs them to sources of information.


Clare Croxall, Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “We worked with the Arts in Health team to establish a fitting memorial to recognise our amazingly brave families and their loved ones. We are thrilled with the final artwork which is a beautiful and colourful installation to recognise, remember and reflect on a donor’s brave and generous gift.
“In the 2018-2019 financial year, 41 families across the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals agreed to organ donation whilst facing the loss of a loved one. This meant 87 organs were donated from our hospitals. The upcoming change to legislation to 'opt out' makes it a fitting time to reflect upon the special gift organ donors and their families give”


The artwork is wall mounted at the Hospital’s D floor Dining room lift lobby.It was unveiled at a special event, which saw the families and friends of organ donors gather for refreshments and an order of service by the hospital chaplain.


Tara added: “As a radiographer working in Sheffield I see the effect donation has on the donors, families and recipients, but for others an art piece like this, showcased in such a communal area, available to all will really highlight these effects and will be a huge development in talking about donation.

My sister and I ensure we talk about our mum with our daughters and how she gave her organs to help others. We are proud to be a donor family and we are honoured to be invited to such events as the opening of the artwork to remember our loved ones and thankful for the teams who support us to get there.”

To sign up to be an organ donor, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk. The Arts in Health Team who coordinated the commissioning and installation of the artwork are funded by Sheffield Hospitals Charity. To donate funds for Arts in Health initiatives, visit sheffieldhospitalscharity.org.uk/appeal/art.



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