The Gift of Life Garden was officially opened at the National Arboretum Canberra by Ms Tara Cheyne MLA, on behalf of the ACT Government, on Sunday 25 November 2018.
Also attending the event were the Hon. Ken Wyatt MP, Australian Government Minister responsible for organ and tissue donation, Associate Professor Kumud Dhital, a leading cardiac transplant surgeon at St Vincent’s Private Hospital and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, key staff from the National Arboretum Canberra, staff from the Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority and DonateLife ACT, hospital and health staff, Gift of Life Incorporated Board members and other representatives of the local transplant community.
The Garden commemorates organ and tissue donation and transplantation. It will be a place for quiet reflection and appreciation of the wonderful gift of donors and their families, the renewed life of transplant recipients and the work of all those medical and health professionals who make this transformation possible.
The establishment of the Garden, with a funding commitment by the ACT Government, was announced by Chief Minister Andrew Barr in late 2016. Funding was also provided by the Australian Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority reflecting its importance as a national project. The remaining funding was generously contributed by private donors.
Key staff of the National Arboretum Canberra and Members of the Gift of Life Board cooperated closely in bringing the project to fruition.
The Garden was designed by landscape architect Alex Dalglish of ‘Somewhere’ from Wagga Wagga and constructed by a Canberra company, Eifer. It comprises winding paths, a mixture of plants, rock features, cascading water, viewing portals and a nook with an inspiring sculpture.
Gift of Life commissioned the sculpture ‘Confluence’ by Bungendore artist Keith Bender. With intersecting circles representing life forming a sphere and ECG shapes crossing over depicting heartbeats, it symbolizes donors and recipients coming together to enable organ donation and transplantation to proceed enabling many more to survive.
The Garden will provide a tranquil setting for transplant families and the general community. It will also bring to the attention of the very large numbers of visitors to the National Arboretum in future the importance of organ and tissue donation and transplantation and encourage many more of them to become donors and to register on the Australian Organ Donor Register – donatelife.gov.au
L to R: A/Prof Kumud Dhittal, cardiac transplant surgeon at St Vincent’s Private, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP Minister responsible for organ and tissue donation, David O’Leary, Gift of Life President and Lucinda Barry, CEO Organ and Tissue Authority