Stoke & Staffordshire

'Gift of Life' organ donor memorial unveiled in Staffordshire

The Gift of Life memorial
Image caption The Gift of Life memorial features a butterfly to symbolise hope and new life, with the forget-me-not symbolising how no donor will ever be forgotten

A national memorial has been unveiled to pay tribute to organ donors who have saved and transformed lives.

The Gift of Life memorial has opened at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire by the Duke of Gloucester.

It features a butterfly to symbolise new life, with the forget-me-not showing donors will not be forgotten.

David Nix, from the Donor Family Network, said the memorial was "one of the charity's dreams".

Image caption The Gift of Life memorial has been unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire

The Donor Family Network is aiming to raise awareness of the thousands of transplants needed.

There are currently nearly 6,500 people waiting for a transplant in the UK and on average three people die every day because of the shortage of donor organs.

David Nix, chairman of the Donor Family Network, said: "It's tremendous to be unveiling the Gift of Life memorial.

"It has been one of the charity's dreams to have a national memorial for everyone who lives have been touched by organ and tissue donation and transplantation."

'My husband's story'

Ian Perkins, from Birmingham, was 32 years old when he died of a brain aneurysm. He saved the lives of four people by donating his organs.

Image caption Ian Perkins, from Birmingham, was 32 years old when he died of a brain aneurysm

Ian's wife, Audrey Wheeler, said: "It was absolutely devastating, but we spoke about it before Ian went to theatre as we knew there was a 50/50 chance of survival. Something good had to come out of a tragedy.

"Ian was a loving, caring man and he was a great dad to Sophie for the short time he was with us. He would be very proud today to be a part of this."

Image caption Audrey Wheeler said "something good had to come out of a tragedy" which saw her husband die from a brain aneurysm

Ian's daughter Sophie was 14 months old when her father died. She is now 14 years old and carries a donor card.

She said: "I think it's worth thinking about it. You never know what's going to happen in your life or when your life is going to end. Make your own decisions, while you still can.

"It just makes everything a bit better knowing people are living their lives from my dad."

Image caption Ian's daughter Sophie was 14 months old when her father died, she is now 14 years old and carries a donor card

The National Memorial Arboretum aims to honour the fallen and recognise service and sacrifice.

There are over 300 memorials on the site that aims to act as a lasting tribute to those who serve their country or who have died in conflict, with over 200 special events held there annually.

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