SAV­ING LIVES, ONE DONOR AT A TIME

PRO­FES­SION­ALS SUP­PORT THE DONOR’S FAM­ILY

Central and North Burnett Times - - READ -

“When our beau­ti­ful Zoe was born, I don’t think Adam could have been more smit­ten,” Lee, a psy­chol­o­gist, said. “He couldn’t take his eyes off her – it was true love at first sight. “They’d go to the park so I could have a break. “They had a re­ally lovely time over there. “He was a very hands-on dad and he loved be­ing a fa­ther.” As Adam’s grief-stricken fam­ily was com­ing to terms with los­ing their “great guy”, his med­i­cal team asked the hospi­tal’s or­gan dona­tion co-or­di­na­tor to check whether he was on the Aus­tralian Or­gan Donor Reg­is­ter. Not only was Adam’s name on the reg­is­ter, he had spo­ken many times to Lee about his wishes, of­ten say­ing that tak­ing one’s or­gans to the grave was a “waste”. “It was an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult time be­cause we had just found out he was not go­ing to re­cover and that he was go­ing to die,” Lee said, re­mem­ber­ing the mo­ment a dona­tion co-or­di­na­tor and Adam’s doc­tors broached the sub­ject. “As soon as they brought dona­tion up, we went ‘Yes, ab­so­lutely’. “We just wanted to make some­thing good come out of this re­ally hor­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion.” Lee said the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als were ex­tremely sup­port­ive, with their em­pa­thy and can­dour mak­ing the sit­u­a­tion bet­ter than she could have hoped. “It was a very beau­ti­ful process,” Lee said. One day af­ter he col­lapsed, Adam’s heart was care­fully placed into the chest of one man and an­other bloke re­ceived Adam’s lungs. One half of Adam’s liver was given to a young child and the other half – along with one of his kid­neys – was gifted to a woman. Adam’s pan­creas and re­main­ing kid­ney were do­nated to an­other woman. “Adam was al­ways so gen­er­ous,” Lee said. “It is no sur­prise that he gave these five peo­ple a sec­ond chance at life.” Four years later, Lee and Zoe still live in their Cor­nu­bia home and when they want to feel close to Adam, they head across the road to the park to sit on a plain blue-grey metal bench un­der a shady stand of trees. A plaque on the chair reads: “Lo­gan City Coun­cil ded­i­cates this bench to or­gan donors and their fam­i­lies for the pre­cious gift of life. Lo­cal res­i­dent Adam Gale loved to play in this park with his daugh­ter. He peace­fully passed away in Jan­uary 2014, do­nat­ing his or­gans to save the lives of five peo­ple.” Lee has added her own name to the or­gan donor reg­is­ter. “If we die in a way that means we can do­nate our or­gans, it’s much eas­ier if ev­ery­one knows your wishes,” Lee urged. Francesca Rourke is one of the more than 100 or­gan donor pro­fes­sion­als across Aus­tralia who is tasked with talk­ing to trau­ma­tised fam­i­lies about their loved one do­nat­ing their or­gans and tis­sues. “We sit with the fam­ily and have con­ver­sa­tions re­gard­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of or­gan dona­tion, what that might mean and de­ter­min­ing what the fam­ily wants, what their loved one would have wanted for them­selves,” the DonateLife Queens­land clin­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion co-or­di­na­tor said. Once a fam­ily gives the go-ahead, the or­gan dona­tion co-or­di­na­tors go over the nec­es­sary le­gal and med­i­cal forms with them. They will also en­sure the griev­ing rel­a­tives are kept abreast of ev­ery step in the process. “The worst thing you can do for the fam­ily is not pro­vide them with ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion,” Francesca said. The day af­ter the or­gan retrieval and trans­plants take place, Francesca will phone the fam­ily to let them know how the surg­eries went and to give them a lit­tle bit of back­ground about the re­cip­i­ents. “We let them know what their loved one was able to do­nate and how many peo­ple they helped,” she said, ex­plain­ing that strict pri­vacy laws mean nei­ther the re­cip­i­ents nor donor fam­ily is given in­for­ma­tion that could re­veal the other party’s iden­tity.

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