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The gift of organ donation 

For the first time ever a UK Cathedral has been wrapped in a giant red ribbon to highlight National Transplant Week and the fleshandblood campaign.

Carlisle CathedralCarlisle Cathedral agreed to host the ribbon on its exterior to lend its support to the campaign and highlight the need for more organ donors.

The ribbon itself, which measures 200 metres long and is 2.5 metres high, took four hours to install by a team of seven people. It also included a giant bow positioned in front of the historic East Window.

The stunt was designed to profile the fleshandblood campaign, the first partnership of its kind between the NHS and UK churches.

This unique initiative aims to encourage church congregations to see blood and organ donation as a part of their regular giving as around three people die each day in need of an organ transplant.

It also seeks to equip people as advocates for blood and organ donation, enabling them to raise awareness of the need for donors with their family, friends and community, potentially helping to save thousands of lives each year.

As part of the morning’s photo stunt the Cathedral also hosted a key presentation which focused on the purpose of the campaign and the urgent need for blood and organ donors in the UK.

Anthony Clarkson, NHS Assistant director in organ donation was one of a number of speakers at the event. He commented, 'We want to create a revolution in consent”, describing the creation of a culture where it is the norm to discuss and consider organ donation. The campaign is as much about generating conversations and general awareness as it is about recruiting donors. He also spoke movingly about the difference that organ donation makes to individuals and their families who receive them.

Phil Jump, Regional Minister for the North Western Baptist Association, was present to support the event. Reflecting on the need to discuss this more openly, he commented, 'At the heart of our Christian worship are the words of Jesus – this is my body given for you.

'As those called to follow Christ’s example it seems natural to consider how we can offer our bodies for the wellbeing of others. Surely the Church should be taking a lead in developing these kind of conversations – there is an obvious pastoral dimension to them, which further reinforces the importance of the Christian community taking the initiative.'

The campaign has the support of Baroness Warsi, Minister for Faith & Communities, who said, 'Faith groups can make a difference in their communities by working together for the common good and tackling shared social problems and this campaign is an ideal opportunity for them to do just that. 

'It is therefore my hope that through the fleshandblood campaign, faith groups are able to donate and encourage wider support from within and around their communities.'

More information about the fleshandblood campaign, along with various reflection and discussion resources can be found at www.fleshandblood.org

Baptist Times, 10/07/2014
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