Alan Titchmarsh and Rowan Williams unveil artwork to honour organ donors


Posted on Tuesday 7 April 2015
Organ donor artwork unveiled

Rowan Williams, Ted Harrison, and Alan Titchmarsh at the unveiling of the artwork.

A major new artwork has been unveiled at Guy’s Hospital in honour of those who have donated organs and helped save the lives of others.

The artwork was unveiled on Easter Saturday by Alan Titchmarsh MBE and blessed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams of Oystermouth.

Created by Ted Harrison, an artist and kidney patient, the artwork marks 25 years since he received a kidney transplant at the hospital.

Titled The Cherry Tree, the artwork is made out of stainless steel and forms a cherry tree that also resembles a kidney. It is on display to patients, staff, and visitors in a downstairs atrium at Guy’s Hospital, which is a leading centre for kidney care and carries out 200 kidney transplants each year.

Alan Titchmarsh, gardener, broadcaster, and novelist, said at the unveiling: “There is no gift that any human can bestow on another that is greater than the gift of life.

The Cherry Tree at Guy’s Hospital is a powerful symbol of gratitude to those who have donated their organs and a reminder to the rest of us what a difference such actions make.”

Lord Williams of Oystermouth said: “This is a beautiful artwork honouring the generosity of organ donors.

“Organ donation is about bodies connecting with each other. Perhaps nothing is more important in society today than recognising that we are connected with one another. Easter is a particularly good time to remember these connections that make us a human family.”

Ted Harrison, whose previous work includes the poppy installation at St Paul’s Cathedral for Remembrance Day in 2011, said: “Designing The Cherry Tree has been poignant for me as it marks the 25th anniversary of my own kidney transplant at Guy’s. I am amazed that my transplant is still going strong.

“Cherry trees also hold a special significance because a flowering cherry was planted several years ago in memory of my own donor. I was never told the name of my donor but I have corresponded with their family anonymously.

“I’m hugely pleased to have the chance to express in art my gratitude to the donor – the friend I never knew.”

Geoff Koffman, the consultant transplant surgeon who carried out Ted Harrison’s operation in 1990, still works at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and was also at the unveiling. He said: “Having operated on Ted 25 years ago, it’s wonderful to see him in such good health and to witness the unveiling of this magnificent work of art.  

“Huge advances have been made in kidney transplantation. In 1990 around 30% of transplanted kidneys would be rejected by recipients’ bodies, but that rejection figure is down to 2 or 3%. We now regularly see transplants lasting a quarter of a century or more.

“However, there are still a significant number of patients waiting for a transplant. In the UK three people die each day while in need of an organ and there are currently around 10,000 people in need of an organ transplant. It remains as crucial as ever for people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

Anyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Age is not a barrier to being a donor and neither are most medical conditions. More information can be found at www.organdonation.nhs.uk.

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