A powerful journey from living with an artificial heart to a heart transplant....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Working Hard to Save Lives

Today was a special day for me. I had the opportunity to meet the people that work for Trillium Gift of Life Network. These individuals work very hard to save lives. There are the nurses that deal with the donor families in their time of grief, the call centre staff that converse with the doctors and medical professionals, those that work on the transplant side to ensure the recipient's needs are met, and the others that coordinate the paperwork and organization of the overall process.

How do you thank the people that work so hard to make transplants possible?

I feel a great deal of compassion for this group. It is difficult to express my gratitude.

I was invited to this event by my good friend Judy, who is the donor coordinator for Waterloo/Wellington. We have worked closely over the past while to get the Life Donation Awareness Association off the ground. Judy has been a wealth of information. She has also given me a glimpse into her work, dealing with donor families. I have a great deal of respect for Judy and the other nurses working in that position especially. The emotional challenge they face to see many tragic events must be difficult. To thank them does not express what they deserve.

I was so lucky to meet the nurse, Katherine, that dealt with my donor family. Such a pleasure. Thank you Katherine. I felt a strong sense of closeness to Katherine and a sense of connection to my donor family through her. (insert tear)

I know what most of you are thinking, did I learn anything about my donor? It is the law in Canada that I am not allowed to learn details of my donor or donor family. I did not ask any questions. I feel that my donor family is entitled to their privacy and if I'm supposed to know something, I will find out. I sent the family a thank you letter and if they choose to respond, I would be especially happy to hear from them. However, if they choose not to respond, I respect and appreciate them just the same.

I was also lucky enough to go into the call centre tucked in the back of the Trillium offices. These are the individuals that deal with the medical professionals over the phone to ensure the donation/transplant process is carried out efficiently. Another very important part. I actually met the lady that dealt with my specific case. Another great pleasure.

Judy has shared with me that when a case is coordinated, the nurses on the donor side loose touch with the recipient part of the process. They typically don't get to know much about the recipients at all. Since I previously had a connection with Judy and I'm Miss December in the TGLN calendar, Judy and the other staff took advantage of this blog to follow my progress. That is such an honour for me and I owe appreciation to my sis-in-law, Shannon for keeping it updated.

I feel very honoured to give the TGLN staff a glimpse into a recipients life and success. I only wish that I have given them encouragement in their career and hope to share with the donor families.

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