What inspired you to become a Surgical Recovery Specialist with BC Transplant?
"Although I don't have any personal connections to the transplant community, it was always something that was really fascinating to me. Prior to working at BC Transplant, I worked as a Registered Respiratory Therapist at Royal Columbian Hospital for 9 years. I often helped in managing organ donors in the Intensive Care Unit. It was very rewarding knowing that the work that we did in managing these donors would help save the lives of several people. As I noticed the number of donors in the ICU increased, I was very inspired by the work that BC Transplant and everyone involved with the organ donation process did. When the opportunity to apply for the position as a Surgical Recovery Specialist came up, I did not hesitate."
What is the most rewarding part of being on this team?
"I think one of the most rewarding parts of being on this team is knowing how many lives are significantly impacted and changed by the work that we do. There are hundreds of people from so many different disciplines involved in the organ donation and transplantation process from start to finish. Ultimately, knowing that someone will receive a life-changing gift makes me so proud to be a part of this organization. It has also been so wonderful meeting transplant recipients; with this, I am able to see the long-term effects of organ donation. The recipients are so grateful to their donors and donor families for receiving the gift of life. I also love listening to their stories of how they were able to see their children get married, travel the world, or simply walk a few steps without becoming short of breath."
Can you explain what a day in the life of a transplant looks like for you?
"A typical day for me would start off at the BC Transplant office. I would review the donor's chart and complete the paperwork that will be required in the operation room. I would then prepare and pack all of the equipment and solutions that will be used during the organ retrieval surgery. Once we are at the donor hospital and the retrieval surgery is underway, I ensure all stakeholders are updated throughout the surgery. I would also help with perfusion and packing of the organs. When the organ retrieval surgery is complete, I am responsible for ensuring that each organ is delivered to the transplanting hospital."
Can you share any particular experiences that come to mind throughout your time here?
"I think one of the most memorable experiences for me has been the Donor Medal Ceremony. This is a special ceremony for donor families that occurs once a year to honour the memory of their loved ones. Families are able to connect with others that also faced a similar experience and hear from recipients who have had their lives changed through organ donation. I admire the strength and courage of families who, even while going through one of the most difficult times of their lives, were still able to make the decision to help save the lives of others by consenting to organ donation. Often, when I meet donor families, they express how the process actually helped with their grief and how they felt an enormous sense of pride knowing their loved one went on to save lives, and give others the chance of a new beginning."
Having seen the miracle of transplant so closely, how important is organ donation and discussing one's decisions to donate to family and friends?
"I feel that it's very important to have discussions with your family about organ donation. Often times when families are approached with the option of donation, it can make an already difficult and emotional time even harder. They may feel like they are making a decision without knowing exactly what their loved one would have wanted. Having these discussions about one's wishes will make it so much easier for them to support what you want."
What would you say are the common myths around organ donation and what can you share with us to clarify any of these myths?
"I think one of the most common misconceptions around organ donation is that people think they can't be a donor due to their health or certain medical conditions. This is absolutely not true. Anyone can sign up to become an organ donor. And while there are a few conditions that may prevent someone from becoming a donor, the ability to donate is determined at the time of death."
What is your perspective on BC's milestone of 50 years of donation and transplant?
"The fact that we celebrated 50 years of donation and transplant in BC is incredible! It's amazing to see how far we have come in 50 years. As we continue to engage with the community and help raise awareness about organ donation, we will see even more growth and success of the program in the years to come."