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Tragic Lisa Orsi's dad speaks of pride as park memorial to organ donors keeps memory alive

By Donna Deeney

The father of Lisa Orsi - whose organs saved several lives in the wake of her untimely death after climbing an Asian volcano - has backed a commemorative sculpture that encourages others to sign up to become a donor.

Dennis Orsi and his family are preparing to mark the second anniversary of the Londonderry woman's death - at just 22 - on Monday.

Lisa fell critically ill while on holiday in Indonesia. She suffered from extreme altitude sickness while climbing a volcano.

Mr Orsi described the decision by Derry and Strabane Council and the Western Trust to place a permanent sculpture in St Columb's Park in the Waterside in tribute to organ donors such as Lisa as "wonderful".

The sculpture is part of a wider plan to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first heart transplant operation, performed in Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in 1967.

Mr Orsi said: "I think this is a wonderful idea that will mark publicly the incredible contribution made by organ donors in saving lives, and also enhancing the quality of life for many more.

"I cannot begin to describe how immensely proud I am that my fantastic daughter, despite her young age, had already made her wishes to become an organ donor clear before her death.

"While I would do anything to have Lisa still with us, it is a comfort to know that so many other families have been spared grief because of her brave decision.

"I would absolutely encourage all families to have that conversation - difficult and all as it might be - because if and when the time comes, knowing that you are carrying out the wishes of the person you love does ease the burden."

Karen McFarland, the Council's director of Health and Communities, said: "There is no greater gift that can be given than that of the gift of life to someone. Those who have saved lives through organ and tissue donation and transportation should be recognised and supported in our city and district and a prominent sculpture in the city marking this is appropriate.

"St Columb's Park is a place of beauty and tranquillity, a perfect setting for the new sculpture."

Teresa Molloy, chairwoman of the Organ Donation Committee at the Western Trust, said donors should be publicly and formally recognised within our hospitals or ideally in public spaces like St Columb's Park.

She said: "Approximately 7,000 people require an organ transplant annually in the United Kingdom. Sadly three patients per day and 1,000 people per year die before an organ becomes available. Therefore, the decision to donate and thereby gift life after death is an act that rightly deserves recognition."

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