January 08, 2010

The Christmas Present

Any nurse will tell you that they have a handful of patients they will never forget. I knew this to be true the minute I got report at change of shift about patient K. She was young, too young. Over the two week span that I took care of her I watched her decline. Her family was an unforgettable pillar of strength and hope. Listening to their stories and memories I really felt like I knew her. The day came where hope of her recovery was gone, she was brain dead. I walked in to her room with my colleague to get report and the words "organ donation" came out of his mouth. I could immediately feel a lump in my throat, the tears welling up. "Stop, Liz, not here not now," I kept telling myself. I was told that night by the other nurses that it will get easier, I'll get to a point where I don't cry anymore, that the "first" is always the hardest. I hope that never happens. What happened next blew me away. When the father was told by the organ donation nurse "I am so sorry this happened to your family, and right before Christmas." He turned to her and said, "We will love and miss our daughter as long as we live but I'm not sorry it happened right before Christmas, actually it's perfect. Put a big red bow on her organs and give 5 families their Christmas present." Each time I worked the family always said "Thank you for taking such good care of her. She is lucky to have a nurse like you" Little did they know that I was the one that should have been thanking them, that I was the one who was lucky to get to meet people like them.

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