Where did you meet and where are you now?
"We met in the renal/transplant unit at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) in 1989 where we all worked as staff nurses. In 1991, the solid multi-organ transplant unit was opened and we were all so excited to go there to be able to care for patients who were receiving not only kidneys, but lungs, heart and livers.
From there, we migrated one-by-one over to work for BC Transplant next. In 1992, Clare joined BC Transplant's organ retrieval team. In 1993, Lynn joined as the Pre-Liver Transplant Coordinator and in 1995, Jane joined to work with the liver and pre-kidney transplant patients. Clare later went on to work with the pre-liver and living liver donor programs.
Currently, Jane works with the VGH post-lung transplant patients and Lynn moved to Kelowna to work in the hemodialysis unit at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH). In 2009, Clare moved to the kidney transplant program at St. Paul's Hospital (SPH) and in 2011, Jane joined Clare at SPH as the Clinical Nurse Leader in the adult cystic fibrosis clinic."
You all have played such important roles across many different healthcare teams. What do you enjoy most about your job?
"We have all become nursing experts in end stage disease and are all still helping patients move on to transplant. "
Lynn: "Working with the liver patients who were so sick and watching the dramatic turnaround from near death to becoming so well was life changing."
Jane: "I love being a part of a cutting-edge multidisciplinary team. The coordinator is the "hub" of the wheel of that team and the advocate for the patient and their family. We had to make sure the patients were "all in" and that the patients wanted success with their transplants. We all built special relationships with our patients and their families."
Clare: "The multi-organ transplant teams were doing cutting-edge and exciting work. We were all so young, keen and dynamic. We continue to do great and cutting-edge work for our patients and the families (even though we are not so young anymore)."
How closely do you all interact with recipients?
"We have all developed great mutual therapeutic relationships with our patients and help them celebrate their lives. We have been to their weddings, celebrated the birth of their children and have been involved in all of the patient transplant milestones. For the patients who have had unfortunate outcomes, we also feel the family's heartache and sadness and we are able to support the families through it. We all recognize this as a special privilege."
Can you describe your thoughts and the emotions of the patient when they hear there is an organ match?
Lynn: "The excitement of calling a patient in for a transplant in the middle of the night and organizing the logistics of getting them to the transplant centre was so rewarding and powerful."
Jane: "I was always so surprised at the patient's response and disbelief when I called them. I wish we had more organs for everyone."
Clare: "Every time we call in or care for a patient with a transplant, we recognize all of the efforts made by many people involved in the organ donation and transplant process. The OR staff, laboratory, pharmacists, social workers, dieticians, doctors and nurses and clinic support staff. There are so many people involved, it's amazing!"
Having seen the miracle of transplant so closely, how important is organ donation and discussing one's decisions with family and friends?
"We all agree that it is important for everyone to talk to their families about their wishes and plans about organ donation."
Since you all don't currently work in the same location anymore, what keeps you all tied together?
"Clare and Jane work at SPH now and Lynn works in the hemodialysis unit at KGH. She has the knowledge base to be a resource there, and talks to patients about the benefits of transplant versus dialysis. Lynn is the one who keeps us connected and is the planner."
What is your perspective on BC's milestone of 50 years of donation and transplant?
"We have seen a lot of change and ultimately we feel the principles of transplant have stayed the same. We are all very proud to have been a part of the transplant community in BC. We hope that we have inspired other nurses to stay on the transplant path as this has been so rewarding. It has gone by so fast and through our wonderful career path, we have maintained a lifelong friendship."