This year marks my 15th year as a nurse. But there is something more important to me than that. This year marks the 15th year my best friend received a lifesaving kidney transplant from her brother. Becoming involved with Indiana Donor Network is my way of giving back. Everyone has their story, and my best friend is my reason for being so passionate about organ donation.
When I heard about the opportunity to attend the 2016 Summit for Indiana Donor Network, I was intrigued. When I heard the summit would be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I was ecstatic! Who knew Indiana Donor Network had sponsored a race car!? To top it off, I heard the Summit would also give me CNEs! The day came and I was eager to get to the track. We were welcomed with the brief, but touching story of Stefan Wilson and his brother, Justin.
His story touches me not only as a nurse, but as someone who has been touched by organ donation. We quickly moved forward to our next topic, “The Difficult Conversation”. Dr. Leland’s talk touched a place that I know all too well. How many times have I been with families when they have received bad news? Too many to count in my 15 years. I have consulted chaplains, held hands with family, and have even cried during these moments. I found Dr. Leland’s “Dos and Don’ts” for delivering bad news one of the most helpful lectures in my 15 years of nursing. The simplest things such as body language, eye contact, and even the act of stating, “I’m so sorry” will make all the difference when being faced with delivering that bad news. Even though I am not the person who delivers the bad news to families, I am undoubtedly the person the family faces after the doctor has left. I am a person they turn to in their moments of grief, anger, and guilt. I hear the families’ stories of their loved ones and share in their remembrance of that person’s life. A life I understand is slipping away from them, but may be intended to save so many other people!
We move on through lunch and share our experiences at the table. Each of my coworkers and I take time to reflect on all of the stories we have had in our collective years of nursing and chaplain services. This leads us up to our next speaker, Matt Wadsworth, Organ Services Manager. Matt’s lecture about the in-depth look of how the donation process occurs was very informative. Although I have taken the Nurse Champion class twice, I have still, in my 15 years, never been part of organ recovery. The process still fascinates me in a way that only a nurse could be fascinated by!
We transitioned from Matt to meet a donor family member. During the “Connect to Purpose” we heard of a sad yet touching story that took place out in Arizona, but was able to save many lives out on the west coast.
This Summit was exceptional! I hope Indiana Donor Network is able to hold one every year! Of course, I enjoyed seeing the cars in the garage getting worked on! We met Stefan at the garage while he and his team put the finishing touches on, and then watched Stefan take to the track and push his car to an impressive speed of over 226mph! Thank you for allowing me to participate in the Driven 2 Save Lives Summit 2016!
RN, CCRN, St. Vincent Hospital
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