I have to be honest with you, I have tried to write this blog numerous times over the past week but have never quite been able to find the words. Here goes...
I work in a children's hospital. My job description is "To brighten the lives of sick and seriously ill children and their families". I have been asked many many times if my job is hard, and I have always made it clear that it isn't hard when you see the smiles on the kids faces and the relief in the parents eyes. Until recently that is. I have had a rough few weeks with the shock passing of a long term patient, and the subsequent contradiction I faced when trying to deal with my emotions. I interact with patients as Captain Bounce, and yet here I was feeling all these things as Emily. I understand that it may be hard for people to comprehend, and to someone not working in the same capacity death may seem like the nature of the job. But for me this was my first experience of death (within the parameters of my job) and the shock and absolute desperation I felt was crippling. I found it really hard to pull myself out of bed and go to work. How was I meant to make children at the hospital smile when I couldn't even smile? It was and still is a really hard thing to reconcile.
Two things you should know:
1. A donated heart gave this patient precious extra years with her family and friends.
2. The patient's family donated her eyes, which gave sight and a new chance at life to two people.
I was inspired to look into Organ Donation and what it really means to be a donor and be the recipient of a donation. I wanted to know what it was that inspired people to be donors and I also wanted to know how it affected the lives of the donors and the lives of the lucky recipients. In doing my research I discovered that Australia is the world leader in successful transplant outcomes, but that Australia has one of the lowest donations rates in the developing world. Because of my job I am interested in the research and organisations that keep people (namely children) alive. I discovered DonateLife and many other transplant organisations (listed below) that helped me in my search for knowledge about donating and transplants. It astounded me to know that 6 babies everyday are born with heart disease.
Today in the hospital I met a patient waiting for a transplant. We dressed up in crazy costumes, and filmed a film clip for her song that was recorded professionally last year. Her eyes were bright and she was laughing. I met another young lady who hadn't walked in days and together we walked down her ward parading her new fashions (also crazy costumes). She smiled, and all the nurses joined in. Every few days I will graciously lose a game of Scrabble to a teenage transplant patient. Last week, while I was having a really tough time, I heard a young patient practically screech "Captain Bounce!" across the room as she ran over to me requesting the exact same face painting I had done a few days before. A few days after that I was told by a Mum that I was her child's favourite because we play Just Dance together, which helps with her physio and movement. All of this is why I do my job. All of these beautiful stories and so very many more are why this job is so important to the lives of sick children. I am important to these kids.
You can be too. Above everything else, what brought me out of my funk this week was that I made the decision to become an organ donor. Not just, say that I want to donate. But actually join the national registry. In 2011 alone 337 organ donors brought a chance at new life to over 1000 people. I implore you to do your own research and come to your own conclusions about organ donation. It is so important to the lives of little ones and big ones nation wide. You could give new life to 10 people when you pass. There are so many options, and so many myths that are just untrue about organ donation. Go to the DonateLife website and discover for yourself. Above all, talk about it. Talk to your family and friends and find out what their wishes are, because as it stands in Australia your next of kin can still overrule your donation wishes even if you are on the registry. Do you know what your families wishes are?
Please give that they may grow.
Please use these websites to help you.
An amazing story: