Following on from the success of ‘The Living with Parkinson’s’ garden, Ruth Gwynn  was asked by Michael Amies, a family friend, to consider designing a show garden for The Organ Donation Register Committee. Michael and his wife Elisabeth had become members of the committee following the sad loss of their adopted daughter, Catherine Amies.

Catherine, who suffered from diabetes, had been on the waiting list for a double kidney and pancreas transplant for two years when she suffered a massive stroke in 2010 and died, at the age of 38.

The Organ Donation Register relies on large numbers of people to be registered, so that when suitable donors are identified they can be matched to waiting patients. It is important more people register and the NHS Organ Donation Register Committee are tasked with increasing awareness and getting more people to sign up.

The theme of the ‘Gift of Life’ garden, was based on the idea of a pavilion located in the centre of the garden. Designed to look like a present, it was a cube wrapped with a ribbon and bow. It was literally ‘the Gift of Life.’

To get to the pavilion you must choose one of two paths, which circumnavigate the garden. Laid out in a heart-shape they echo the Organ Donation Card logo.

These two paths represent the question, Can we ….Yes or NO? This question is asked three times. It is asked by:

  •       the individual – Can I sign up to the register?
  •       the medical team – Can we use your loved ones organs? and
  •       the family of the donor – Can we consent to this donation?

If the answer is yes, I do want to register and tell my family, you progress along the yes path to the ‘Garden Gift Pavilion’.

If you say no I don’t want to register, you progress along a path that intentionally makes the visitor more uncomfortable. So that they begin to think about their decision, to question their intentions and its consequences. At the end of the ‘No’ path the visitor must ask the question again.

Can we ….Yes or NO?

If you answer no there is a door marked ‘No,’ which exits the garden.  But, if you answer yes, there is another door, which opens into the garden gift pavilion; and the visitor is rewarded with the ultimate pleasure of entering the ‘Gift of Life’ pavilion.