As a health professional working in organ and tissue donation for the past 21 years, I feel very privileged to have witnessed first hand the generosity of donors and their families who have considered and agreed to organ and tissue donation at an incredibly traumatic time in their lives.
Working originally as a Donor Coordinator, I was closely involved with the family, providing them with information and support and guiding them through the donation process. It is very humbling to sit with a family while they share intimate moments and recall anecdotes of their loved one with you. The decisions that they made have literally saved the lives of hundreds of Australians and enhanced the lives of many others.
Over the years, donor families have helped health professionals too. They have helped to shape our practices by providing us with valuable insight into their needs and how we can best support them. In my current role as Agency Manager, I manage the provision of bereavement support to families and education to staff in hospitals to ensure that families are offered the opportunity of donation in a compassionate and respectful manner.
In reflecting on my experience with donor families, I would say without hesitation, that many families have drawn comfort from the fact that they were able to honour the wishes of their loved ones by agreeing to donation and helping others.
My heartfelt thanks goes to all families who have been a part of the donation journey and my encouragement goes to future families who discuss organ donation and make their wishes known.