WOMAN sculpture highlights the moment mothers hold newborn babies

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has unveiled a special sculpture of a new mother and her baby to celebrate its work on maternal and child health.
Caption: WOMAN by Moira Purver. Credit: LSHTM

The bronze statue entitled 'WOMAN' was created by artist Moira Purver and went on display at LSHTM on International Women's Day. It depicts a woman on her knees holding her new baby in her arms just after giving birth.  

LSHTM is a leading centre for maternal health research and home to the MARCH Centre for Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive and Child Health. More than 200 experts are working to strengthen and promote innovation, evaluation and evidence-based policy making across a range of settings in over 100 countries and multiple disciplines.

The artwork was commissioned by the team behind the WOMAN Trial, a major international study published in 2017. The study of 20,060 women in 21 countries found that, if given quickly, a low-cost and widely available drug called tranexamic acid reduced deaths due to severe bleeding after childbirth by a nearly a third. Severe blood loss after giving birth (postpartum haemorrhage) is the leading single cause of maternal deaths, killing around 100,000 women each year, so the findings have the potential to save many lives. 

Caption: WOMAN by Moira Purver. Credit: LSHTM
Caption: WOMAN by Moira Purver. Credit: LSHTM

Haleema Shakur-Still, Associate Professor of Clinical Trials at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Project Director on the WOMAN Trial, said: “The sad truth is that despite the results being published in The Lancet and the World Health Organization updating its guidelines to recommend early use of tranexamic acid, many women who develop severe bleeding after childbirth are unlikely to benefit from this new information. It is critical that doctors and midwives are made aware of the results so that all women who could benefit from tranexamic acid do so.”

Purver, who is a member of The Society of Women Artists, said: "I created this sculpture to show the happiness, joy and overwhelming love a mother feels the first time she holds her baby. It also shows the vulnerability of a new baby and brings home that we must do all we can to make sure babies have their mothers alive to care for them.  

"The artwork represents the 20,060 women whose contribution created this new knowledge. It represents the highest risk day in a woman and baby’s life - the day of giving birth. It represents also the miracle of childbirth. I hope by promoting and displaying this sculpture, more people will learn about the importance of these results". 

Professor Dame Anne Mills, Deputy Director and Provost at LSHTM, said: "For years experts here at LSHTM have been contributing important evidence to improve the lives of mothers and families around the world. It is fitting that we should recognise this work and the women themselves with a strong visual symbol like the WOMAN sculpture."

The WOMAN Trial was funded by The Wellcome Trust and UK Department of Health through the Health Innovation Challenge Fund, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.