Organ donor awareness organization continues its work

22 year celebration includes ribbon cutting for 'Garden of Life' at Bluewater Health

Pictured at the October 5 event are, from left, Jean Clark, chair of SODA; Sue Morrison-Weir, whose husband was an organ donor; and Connie Ellis, past chair of SODA.
Pictured at the October 5 event are, from left, Jean Clark, chair of SODA; Sue Morrison-Weir, whose husband was an organ donor; and Connie Ellis, past chair of SODA.

Sarnia Organ Donor Awareness (SODA), a group that began its work in creating awareness some 22 years ago, recently celebrated its milestone by cutting the ribbon on the completed Garden of Life within the Shell Healing Garden at Bluewater Health in Sarnia/

The garden honours organ and tissue donors and recipients, even as SODA continues to offer support and financial assistance to organ and tissue recipients and those on waiting lists and to leave a positive mark on the community.

The ceremony, which took place on Wednesday, October 5, 2016, was a fitting way to underscore awareness of SODA, which has meant so much to members of the Sarnia-Lambton community.

As one enters the Shell Healing Garden on the first floor of the Sarnia hospital, the bed on the right represents those who have received organ and tissue transplants or are awaiting a transplant. The garden on the left represents those who have generously donated the organ and/or tissue of a loved one or have been a living donor. Running through both beds and linking them together is a red plant, Coral Bell “Fire Chief,” representing blood and the connection between donor and recipient. The existing water feature within the Shell Healing Garden serves as a symbol of the running water of life.

The donor bed includes plants to honour the unselfish act of donors/donor families, such as Jacob’s Ladder “Stairway to Heaven,” peony “Scarlet Heaven,” hosta “Praying Hands,” and a weeping beech “Purple Fountain.” The recipient bed contains flowers representing the various organs of the body. Ligularia represents the kidney, lungwort “Samourai” the lungs, and bleeding heart “Valentine” the heart, while the Japanese maple “Bloodgood” stands for blood. Recipients will also be honoured through the hydrangea “Invincibelle Spirit.” This bed features a granite boulder with the inscription “Remembering Donors; Honouring Recipients.”

A Folk Art Angel from “Winter Wheat” made from recycled materials has been added to the garden to represent donor families and is being dedicated in memory and honour of Donna Stewart. Donna was a dedicated board member of SODA and was the Director of Jazz & Blues in the Village, the major SODA event held each September. Donna lost her battle with breast cancer earlier this summer.

The final finishing touch to the garden is the addition of original art work to the pallets on the wall opposite the water feature. Members of the Sarnia Artists’ Workshop have graciously donated their artwork for this project. The artists contributing work are Karen Schaw (Floral landscape), Kathy King (phoenix rising), Regina Gudelis (people, 1saves8) and Tracy Tobin (garden/Monarch). In the middle of the artwork is an additional “living art” piece – a green ribbon (the symbol of organ/tissue donation) made from moss, designed by Victoria Morrison.

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