Tom’s Baton comes to Leeds!

The memorial baton which celebrates organ donation was carried into Leeds in the lead-up to the World Transplant Games.

Tom’s Baton’ was created in memory of Tom Wilson, a talented hockey player who lost his life in December 2015 in a freak accident at the age of 22.

After Tom’s death, his parents Lisa and Graham agreed for his organs and tissue to be donated.

Lisa, who also lost Graham eight weeks later to a brain tumour and sepsis, has since become a passionate campaigner for organ donation.

His family commissioned a sculpted baton being held by two bronze hands which represents giving and receiving the gift of life that organ donation provides.

Tom’s baton arrived in Leeds as part of the nationwide relay to Newcastle ahead of the World Transplant Games which are being hosted by the city.

Lisa received a warm welcome in Leeds as she was greeted at the city’s Royal Armouries.

The baton was then transported by water from Leeds Dock to Granary Wharf, thanks to Canal & River Trust who supplied their work boat and skipper, who were greeted by the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Transplant team who then transported the baton to LGI via an Amvale vehicle.

Here, the party was greeted by members of the Leeds Children’s Hospital British Transplant Games team as well as members of the adult team and their families.

Also in attendance was the ‘Be a Hero’ mascot who kicked off the hospital’s own relay from the bottom of the LGI with Lisa completing the last leg up to the Helideck from which she took in the fantastic views of the city.

The event finished with a tea party hosted by Leeds Cares.

Dawn Stevenson, Liver Transplant Co-Ordinator, said: “It’s been really important for us to support this event in the lead up to the Transplant Games. As a specialist centre we see and treat lots of transplant patients both at St James’ for adults and Leeds Children’s Hospital for our paediatric patients. The baton is a fantastic symbol of the games and we are really proud to have supported it’s journey through Leeds.”

The Games – which take place in Newcastle between August 17th and 23rd – are a celebration of a second chance of life for over 2,500 participants and shine the spotlight on the importance of organ donation in saving and enhancing lives.

Lisa said: “My daughter Pippa and I are really proud of the decision Tom made to become an Organ Donor.

“Tom’s legacy is the gift of life and hope he gave to the 50 people who received his organs and tissue transplant. ‘Tom’s Baton’ reflects that beautifully.

“It symbolises the passing on of something precious and because it is a relay baton it has a link to sport that Tom and his dad loved so much.

“We know it will inspire others, not only competitors, organisers and volunteers at the Games but also those who are interested in following Tom’s example and becoming donors and talking to their friends and families about why it is so important.”

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “It’s wonderful to see so many athletes who have experienced the lifesaving benefits of organ donation and transplantation coming together to compete and celebrate the healthy life their organ transplant has given them.

“Everyday lives are saved and transformed through organ transplantation and raising awareness of organ donation has never been more important – particularly with the law about organ donation changing in England and Scotland next year.

“I wish Team GB all the best at the World Transplant Games and hope their achievements in the Games and commitment to raising the profile of organ donation will inspire others to have their donation conversation with those closest to them and make their choices known.”

Graham Wylie, chair of the World Transplant Games NewcastleGateshead 2019, said: “It’s inspiring to see two recipients of Tom’s organs starting and finishing the baton relay that will work its way up through transplant centres around the county. Tom’s baton symbolises the power of organ donation and will inspire more people to have conversations around donation and make their choices known.

“We can’t wait to welcome participants and their supporters to the region next week for what will be an inspiring celebration of human courage and physical fitness.”