Organ Donation Week is over for another year but our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Sister Laura Smith reminds us why we must keep talking about our loved ones’ wishes.
She has had first-hand experience of knowing how a family feels awaiting a transplant for a loved one.
“My uncle was due to have a lung transplant but sadly this didn’t work out for him so I know how lives really can be transformed through organ donation,” she said.
“When I started to work on ICU this was an area of work I was always fascinated in. The patients on our unit are critically ill and, sadly, some of them will never get better. Anyone who’s ever had to tell a family that their relative isn’t going to make it will confirm that this is the absolute worst news you can give anyone.
“While broaching the subject of organ donation can be difficult the family has already had to hear the worst thing they can imagine. Our SNOD – Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation – is able to talk to them about how their loved one can make such a positive impact on potentially a number of other people’s lives. This can be a comfort to them.”
Laura has also been able to observe organ retrieval in theatre and wants to let families know that their loved ones are treated with the utmost respect.
“Everyone involved in the retrieval is acutely aware of the incredibly special gift that the donor is going to make and, while everyone is treated like a VIP in theatre, there is a silent understanding among everyone involved that the donor is doing something absolutely wonderful for others.
“I am on the donor register and have made sure I’ve discussed it with my family so they all know my wishes following my death. It’s important to talk about organ donation and get rid of any fears or inaccurate ideas that people may have around it. I also think that if you would be prepared to accept an organ for yourself or for a family member you should be equally prepared to help others if they were in need.”