Media Release

Tree to honour those who have given the gift of life in Organ Donation Week

The people who have saved or transformed the lives of others by agreeing to an organ transplant have been honoured with the planting of a special tree in King’s Lynn.

Oscar (8) and Nancy (6) Whales along with their mum Nicola officially planted the pink flowering cherry tree at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital during a ceremony on Tuesday, 3 September, to mark Organ Donation Week.

Their father Mark, who died in April 2015, is among the people who have been honoured by the planting of this tree.

A total of 15 life-saving transplants, along with improving the lives of four others, were conducted over the last year thanks to six patients at the QEH and their families.

Mrs Whales, who is a Sister at the QEH, said: “This tree is a really nice symbol to celebrate the memory of all of the people who have given the gift of life to another.”

Dr Ian Mack, a retired GP and Non-Executive Director at the QEH, said it was a great privilege to be part of the ceremony and had looked after a lot of patients who were waiting for a transplant.

He said: “It is admirable when people make that most difficult decision after someone they have loved and cared for cannot recover and give the gift of life onto others. This tree is a symbol of life to remember that gift and how wonderful it is.”

The ceremony had been organised by David Melhado, Organ Donation Specialist Nurse for the Eastern Organ Donation Services Team.

The QEH is backing Organ Donation Week, which runs until 8 September, and is joining the call to urge people to talk to their families about organ donation.

Next year, the law around organ donation is changing in England. From spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups. Families will continue to be approached before organ donation goes ahead. Knowing what their relative wanted, helps families support their decision at a difficult time.

New Clinical Lead for Organ Donation Dr Robin Heij is urging people to make sure that they share their wishes with families and loved ones.

He said: “It is really important that people express their wish to become an organ donor with their families. Even if people tick the box on the registration form, there is a very good chance that the families may say no to donation if they are not aware of their loved one’s wishes.”

Chief Executive Caroline Shaw said: “As a Trust, we are incredibly proud of the work which is undertaken here to support organ donation to improve and transform people’s lives.

“I have never forgotten the person and family who made the decision to donate a kidney which has transformed the life of my nephew. He is now able to live a normal life thanks to their generoisty.

“We need more people in West Norfolk to talk about organ donation to increase the number of life-saving transplants. While most people agree that it is important to talk about organ donation, it is less likely that they will actually have this important conversation. Please don’t wait speak to your family about organ donation today.”

Find out more and register your decision by visiting NHS Organ Donor Register at and share your decision with your family.



Pictured from left: Malcolm Powell, Dr Ian Mack, Gill Rejzl, Chief Executive Caroline Shaw, Nicola Whales with Oscar and Nancy Clinical Lead for Organ Donation Robin Heij, Organ Donation Specialist Nurse David Melhado, Matt Water and Natalie English

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