We got the chance to interview Larna, a Nurse Donation Specialist from Victoria who shared how she ended up in her dream job.
What sparked your interest in becoming a Nurse Donation Specialist?
I can remember the first time I’d ever heard about organ donation. I was about 11 or 12 years old and I saw the little red ‘D’ sticker in the corner of my parents’ drivers’ licences. This sparked a conversation and a natural curiosity regarding organ donation that has stuck with me ever since.
When I grew up and decided to become a nurse, this curiosity continued, and I recall choosing many donation related topics to write my assignments on at university.
After working in various areas of nursing, I settled on a speciality in Intensive Care. Working in the ICU at both Ballarat Base and The Alfred Hospitals, I cared for many patients at the end of their life and for many patients getting their second chance at life through transplantation.
In 2016, I had the chance to take on the role of Nurse Donation Specialist at Ballarat Health Service and I was so excited by the opportunity, I even came back to work early from maternity leave. Working directly in this space is something I had always wanted, and I am now working in my dream job.
What is it like working in a team that deals with such a sensitive and important topic?
It’s a great privilege to know that the work we do at DonateLife makes such a difference to others. The thought that we quite literally save people’s lives is mind-blowing, but it's also tough at times.
As you can imagine, it can take its toll, but like our organisation supports all our donor families, they too support us. Most nurses would say that within their closest circle of friends, there is at least 1 or 2 other nurses. We lean on each other, we listen like no one else can because we understand like no one else can. It’s this support that makes us great – we are better together.”
In your experience, what is it like discussing organ and tissue donation with a grieving family?
Not many people can be a part of the end of someone’s life, and for me this is a real privilege and a responsibility I do not take lightly. To be able to provide support and comfort to families and ensure dignity and respect for their loved one who is dying is never easy, but always rewarding.
To sit with a family and hear stories of their loved one is the way we get to see a glimpse of the person they were. In a lot of cases, it is these stories that affirms for families what their loved one would want when they are asked to consider the opportunity to help others though organ and tissue donation.
It never ceases to amaze me, even after all my years working in this field, the ability of donor families to, inside some of their darkest days and unimaginable grief, think of others and say yes to donation. To me, donor families are the real heroes in our world.”
If this is a career path you’re interested in pursuing, you can get in touch with your local DonateLife agency who can help you find out more.