On the 22nd July 2022, a week before the launch of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth Tribute to Life (CTtL) project welcomed over 100 guests from the organ donation and transplantation community to Edgbaston Cricket Stadium, Birmingham, to celebrate the commencement of the first five-year term of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
This MOU provides a framework for the sharing of knowledge and expertise to increase ethical organ donation and transplantation, regardless of a nation’s transplant infrastructure. To date, 43 of the 54 Commonwealth nations have committed to collaborate on the Tribute to Life Project, representing 98.6% of the Commonwealth population. The project also currently has the support of 18 international organisations to achieve its goals.
During the Inaugural Ceremony, whilst guests enjoyed a banquet dinner, we heard a number of powerful speeches from supporters and leaders of the project. Mr Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHSBT, started the Ceremony by welcoming guests before Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Chair of the CTtL UK Advisory Panel, and Mr Ian Reid, Chief Executive of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, introduced the project and its important role as a legacy project of the 2022 Birmingham Games.
Dr Satya Sharma MBE, the Chair of the Commonwealth Tribute to Life Project Board, gave a powerful talk about the work done to-date and the high ambitions of the project, underlining the potential of the project to save numerous lives going forward. One powerful speech was followed by another, where we heard Jay and Sina Patel tell the story of their son Aari, who donated his organs to save the lives of many and who embodies the powerful role that organ donation can have. Dr Dale Gardiner, Chair of the CTtL International Advisory and Associate Medical Director for Deceased Organ Donation and NHSBT, presented to guests the outcomes of the world-class Tribute to Life Webinar series, before announcing a restructuring of the project governance, moving from conception to implementation, and to creation of the MoU Custodian Group. He said:
“We are delighted after three years of work, to see so many of the organ donation and transplant community from around the world coming together in a shared commitment to improve organ donation rates and save more lives.
“This Memorandum of Understanding unites us all in one shared vision for the future of organ donation and transplantation and has the ability to help us tackle the global issue of health inequalities.
Wherever you are in the world, we urge you to talk to your friends and family and leave them certain of your organ donation decision. Through the gift of organ donation, each one of us has the potential to save lives.”
Finally, Dr Suni Shroff, Regional Coordinator for Asia and the Managing Trustee of the MOHAN Foundation, closed the Ceremony with a Vote of Thanks.
Amongst these important speeches, guests enjoyed Bhangra and Afro-Caribbean dance and music performances.
One of the most important outcomes of the event was the privilege of welcoming international collaborators and Regional Coordinators to celebrate the launch of the project. We’d like to extend a special thanks to Dr Sunil Shroff (India), Professor Tan Chee Kiat (Singapore), Dr Margaret O’Shea (Barbados) and Dr Vasanthi Ramesh (India) for making the journey to come support the Inauguration of the MoU.
The event marks an important milestone for the project, but we now need to look forward to beginning the work of achieving better organ donation and transplantation outcomes for the entire Commonwealth through collaboration and partnership, reducing health inequalities and saving lives worldwide.
For more information about the Commonwealth Tribute to Life Project and how you can get involved, please visit the website at https://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/commonwealth/.
You can also re-watch the Inaugural Ceremony on the official Tribute to Life Youtube channel, at https://youtu.be/4xZz56YJwWE