HE lost his 28-year-old wife to cystic fibrosis last year, and now an Oxford University scientist is hoping his latest art exhibition will raise awareness of the condition.
Luke Yates, who is a research scientist at the Division of Structural Biology in Headington, is displaying 15 of his paintings at Magdalen College today.
His wife Sam died on April 4, last year after years of suffering caused by the genetic lung condition.
Mr Yates, 27, said: “The damage to her lungs was so severe the doctors said she needed a new set.
“We waited for three years and three months on the transplant list. They didn’t come in time.”
Mrs Yates, a primary school teacher, was an organ donor herself and gave a stranger the gift of sight after she donated her corneas.
After his wife’s death, Mr Yates took up painting landscapes and seascapes in oil paints.
He said: “I’ve always enjoyed painting, but it became cathartic in a very painful time. It was an outpouring of grief and heartbreak.”
Mr Yates hopes the exhibition – called Art Transplant – will raise awareness of cystic fibrosis and organ donation.
He said: “It was a difficult decision to share these paintings when they are so personal, but I decided that getting more people to donate their organs was more important.
“I just want people to make an informed decision about organ donation. I don’t want people just to not bother when I’ve seen the consequences of it.”
Mr Yates will auction the paintings later this year in order to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and organ donation charity Live Life then Give Life.
He said: “Sam was campaigning for more people to donate even when she was suffering in hospital. I feel responsible for carrying on that legacy. If I can raise awareness it may help people who are living with cystic fibrosis and give them a better chance.”
Mr Yates, who lives in Hampshire, is not alone in wanting to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation.
Adele Fowler is mother to six-year-old Casper, who has cystic fibrosis. She said: “This absolutely needs more awareness.
“We live in quite a selfish society at the moment and I don’t think having a donor card is at the front of people’s minds.
“In a perfect world we would have an op-out system.”
Miss Fowler, 36, said that Casper may also need a lung transplant in later life.
She said: “I am under no illusion, it’s something that we’re going to have to deal with.
“But I am optimistic about the future.”
The exhibition will be open to the public for free today from 9am-5pm.
To join the organ donor register visit organdonation.nhs.uk