Day-to-day life working in the ICU is not for the faint of heart. It is a job full of extremes where my colleagues and I come face to face with life and death every single day. Patients can't always be saved. We apologise to families when we break the bad news; we tell them that we wish the news were different, that they could have many more years with their loved one. There is nothing we can do to take away their anguish.
Every family I have had the privilege of meeting has a story. Being invited into their world is such a special part of this job. Every family has such a unique and wonderful story to tell about their loved one and four years into this job my awe of the generosity of ordinary people has not faded.
Telling families that their loved one is dying is unimaginably sad. At this time, we explore their loved ones end-of-life decisions, including their decision to help others by being an organ and tissue donor. Each family is given the respect and care they deserve, and I do my best to support them to make a decision on behalf of their loved one.
I can help them say goodbye. I can help them celebrate the life of their loved one. I can advocate for my patients and acknowledge their generosity, who they are as a person, as an individual -- not just a patient lying in a bed.
Seeing families constantly struggle with the decision whether to donate their loved ones organs is heartbreaking. They are overwhelmed with grief, trying to make this important decision in the worst possible situation. This is why I am a strong advocate for registering your decision to donate -- it takes immense pressure off your loved ones to make a decision on your behalf.
The most difficult part of this job is maintaining a professional façade when you are immersed in the emotions of loss. At the end of the day, we are human. I am very lucky to be supported by a team who looks out for each other, and will step in when we need a moment to take a breath. I truly understand now that life is as beautiful as it fragile.
What keeps me going is knowing that somewhere else in Australia, someone -- whether it be a child wanting to play with their siblings again, or a dad wanting to see his daughter grow up -- is getting a second chance at life. All due to the generosity of an individual they have never met.
If I ever needed a transplant or my loved ones needed a transplant, I would be so appreciative of the generosity of a complete stranger, who took the time to register their decision. It is so important to have a voice when I can no longer speak for myself -- this is why I have registered my donation decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register.
Sunday 20th November is DonateLife Thank You Day, and we will stop to acknowledge the selfless gift of all Australian organ donors and their families. On this day we celebrate the incredible legacy that they left behind. What an extraordinary gift they have given -- a second chance at life to a complete stranger.
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