Donor families honoured at Ely Cathedral

8 May 2015

Families who donated a loved one's organs to help save others joined transplant patients at a thanksgiving service at Ely Cathedral this weekend.

More than 1300 people attended the special ceremony on Sunday 10th May to honour the memories of organ donors and celebrate the lives of transplant recipients.

Guests included families from across Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, who consented to organ donation, and patients who had life-saving transplants at Papworth and Addenbrooke's Hospitals.

Angela Waterhouse, Specialist Nurse - Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "This was the ninth ceremony of its kind at Ely and it was a very moving time for everyone involved. The service is a way of thanking donor families for their generosity and selflessness at one of the most distressing times in their life. It is also an opportunity for donor families to see first hand how a decision to donate their loved one's organs changes lives - and for transplant recipients to have an opportunity to thank families whose brave choices enable others to have a second chance at life."

Candles were lit during the ceremony for organ donors and transplant patients and their loved ones.

On behalf of donor families, Alison Moore lit a candle in memory of her mother, whose organs were donated after her death.

Maggie Gambrill, who had a heart transplant at Papworth Hospital in 2002, and Nigel Garner, who received a kidney transplant, lit a candle on behalf of transplant recipients.

Maggie said: "I was delighted to be able to light a candle at the service. The special gift of life has enabled me to achieve many new challenges including competing in the World Transplant Games. I think of my donor every day and live life to the full in his memory. I feel privileged to have this opportunity to say thank you and to further promote organ donation."

Ann-Marie Ingle Chief Nurse at Addenbrooke's Hospital lit a candle for medical staff.

Mr Steven Tsui, Clinical Director of Transplantation Services at Papworth Hospital, said: "The gift of life is the best gift a person can give or receive and therefore celebrations like this thanksgiving are a great way of recognising such acts of kindness. Many of our transplant patients have been able to go on to enjoy their lives thanks to organ donation and we would not be able to save so many lives here at Papworth Hospital without the selfless acts of donors and their families."

Across the UK, there are currently around 7,000 people waiting for a transplant.

Dr Paul Gibbs, consultant transplant surgeon at CUH Addenbrooke's Hospital, said: "This thanksgiving service is really important because it recognises the gift of life that organ donation means. Transplants are one of the miracles of modern medicine and the best possible treatment for most patients with end-stage organ failure. There are approximately 60 people living in Cambridgeshire waiting for a transplant operation so we always need people to tell their families they support organ donation and to join the NHS Organ Donor Register."

Dean of Ely Mark Bonney, who took the service, said: "Ely Cathedral is privileged to host this very special service of thanksgiving which not only acknowledges those who have selflessly donated their organs to save the lives of others, but also gives thanks for the lives of all who have received organs through the generosity of these brave donors and their families"

Every day 3 people die in need of a transplant. To find out more about organ donation or join the Organ Donor Register visit


Notes to editors

  • NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. Its remit includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales. It is also the organ donor organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
  • The NHS Organ Donor Register records the details of people who have registered their wishes to donate organs and/or tissue after their death for transplantation. This information is used by authorised medical staff to establish whether a person wanted to donate.
  • It's simple to join the ODR by:
  • Anyone can register on the ODR. Age isn't a barrier to being an organ or tissue donor and neither are most medical conditions. People in their 70's and 80's have become donors and saved many lives.
  • One donor can save or transform up to nine lives and many more can be helped through the donation of tissues.
  • There are currently 6,956 (at 30.04.15) people in the UK on the active waiting list for an organ transplant. This figure changes constantly as people join and leave the transplant list.

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