€150,000 garden to honour the 'gift of life' from organ donors
The families of organ donors and recipients of transplants from across Ireland gathered at a unique garden to mark the generosity of those who gave the ultimate gift of life.
The Circle of Life garden in Salthill, Galway, will shortly be officially opened as Ireland's National Commemorative Garden in memory of organ donors.
Over the weekend, individuals and families touched by organ donation met to plant trees in memory of their loved ones.
The €150,000 project is the brainchild of Denis and Martina Goggin, whose only son Eamonn died in a road crash in Co Galway in 2006.
It was Eamonn's wish that his organs be donated and Denis and Martina subsequently established the charity Strange Boat Foundation to support and provide consolation to all those affected by organ donation and transplantation by establishing the Circle of Life garden.
Double kidney recipient Sonia Treacy (38) travelled from Newbridge, Co Kildare, to plant a tree on behalf of all recipients of donated organs.
"I met Denis and Martina Goggin some time ago through transplant surgeon David Hickey and they had mentioned their plan for the garden to me," she said.
"I was delighted to get the call to come to Galway and plant a tree here in such a beautiful place.
"There isn't a day goes by that people like me don't think of the donors ... It is a huge honour. To go from being on a machine for eight hours a day to a normal life without a machine is just a unique gift."
Also planting a tree was Steve Carter from Glengormley, in north Belfast, who lost his wife Denise in March 2009.
The mother of three sons was looking forward to the birth of a daughter at Antrim Area Hospital but died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage.
"Denise never got to meet the daughter she always wanted, but I was approached shortly after her death by a specialist nurse who asked if Denise had ever spoken about organ donation.
"I had to make a decision, but I just knew it was what Denise would have wanted. Her organs helped save the lives of five people," Mr Carter said.