Erskine Tree Planted in Kiltonga New Life Garden for Organ Donation Week

Monday 20th September 2021

​Tree planted to mark Organ Donation Week 2021

A woman and two men at a cerremonial tree planting

Transplant recipients and Ards and North Down Borough Council have planted an Erskine tree at Kiltonga New Life Garden to mark the beginning of Organ Donation Week (20 - 26 September) - a week that encourages people to join the Organ Donor Register and discuss their decision with their loved ones.

The Garden was selected as an ideal location to mark the beginning of the annual organ donation campaign in Ards and North Down. It was officially opened 10 years ago as a space where families can remember their loved ones who gave the gift of life, transplant recipients can give thanks to their donor, and those waiting for a transplant can visit to gain strength and hope.

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Mark Brooks, said:

"The New Life Garden is a very tranquil setting that allows for moments of reflection and celebration of life. The planting of an Erskine tree is a fitting way to mark Organ Donation Week as trees are a very important role in everyone’s health and provide life for future generations. I am pleased to support this celebration of organ donation and transplantation which saves and transforms hundreds of lives every year."

William Johnston, Co-Chair of Northern Ireland Kidney Patients Association, said:

“Only half of families agree to donation if they don’t know their loved one’s wishes but this rises to 9 out of 10 if they know that their loved one wanted to donate. If you want to donate, have a conversation with those close to you and give them the confidence to support your decision should the situation arise. Please also consider signing the organ donation register.”

In Northern Ireland around 90% of people support organ donation but only 49% of people have signed the Organ Donor Register. You can register your decision on the NHS Organ Donation Register at

Organ Donation Facts:

• Families will always be involved before organ donation goes ahead.

• Each year in Northern Ireland around 10-15 people die while awaiting a transplant.

• There are around 115 people in NI on the waiting list.

• Only 1% of people die in circumstances where donation is possible, therefore every donation is precious.

• Across the UK, more than 1,000 people each year donate a kidney or part of their liver while they are still alive to a relative, friend or even someone they do not know. The most commonly donated organ by a living person is a kidney. Part of a liver can also be transplanted from a living donor to help someone in need of a liver transplant.

• The Erskine tree is a direct descendant of a famous oriental tree under which Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, is said to have first taught. It was first planted in Northern Ireland at Belfast City Hospital in 1966 when seeds were gifted by Greek physician, Dr Dimitrios Oreopoulos. Dr. Oreopoulos was undertaking kidney research and made many contributions to the treatment of renal disease as well as developing Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis.

Photo caption: (L-R) Jean Michelo (Organ recipient and Vice-Chair Northern Ireland Kidney Patients Association) with Dr. Douglas (Retired Nephrologist Consultant) and the Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Mark Brooks. (Image: Graham-Baalham Curry.)