The following article received a 2012 Honorable Mention in the Robert G. Fenley Writing Awards, General Staff Writing category, from the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Institutional Advancement.By Michael Keating
The operating room is empty except for Helena Sun, RN, CNOR, CNIV, and her patient. The transplant team is gone. Silence fills the void.
“I’m going to remove the tubes and give you a bed bath now,” she tells her patient, an organ donor whose gifts in death offer life to a few of the more than 100,000 patients waiting for life-saving organs. “OK, I’m going to lift you now. I want you to look your best when your family comes to see you.”
Sun often has this kind of conversation with a deceased patient after organs have been removed for transplant. “I personally am very sensitive about respect to the patient and believe we have to give 100 percent to the patient whether the patient is alive or dead,” she says. “We might think this patient is gone, but he is still a person, still a patient to me.”
April is Donate Life Month in the United States, a chance to draw attention and encourage people to register as organ donors with their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.