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Wednesday, 27 November 2013 14:33

Nursing students have message about the ultimate donation

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Justine Pfeifer, Devyne Sielski, Janine Jeffrey, Candice Henson and Renee Goldie Justine Pfeifer, Devyne Sielski, Janine Jeffrey, Candice Henson and Renee Goldie Photo contributed

A quintet of third-year nursing students from the Medicine Hat College are trying to get the message out about organ donation using people who would know best: those who have been or could be future recipients. 

Justine Pfeifer, Devyne Sielski, Janine Jeffrey, Candice Henson and Renee Goldie were part of a group promoting organ and tissue donation to students and the public recently.
As a group they decided to set up an information table and occupied it talking to passers-by on campus and in the public about organ donation and discussing it with their families. Wearing custom-designed shirts which display organs which can be harvested and handing out candy, the students were trying to promote the idea of people at least having the conversation about organ donation following their death. They focused on key themes such as: hope, recycle, donate, share and “talk about it.”
They gathered background information through surveys and discussions with people from southeast Alberta who were transplant recipients.
Henson who is from Redcliff, says part of their school project involved gathering data from this focus group of recipients. The nursing students worked with these community partners as part of a needs assessment project.
What struck the nursing students was the fact these recipients were so thankful to get donated organs from those who had suddenly passed away i.e. due to sudden accidents.
“It provided insight and more understanding of this (issue),” explains Henson who along with the others couldn’t state enough gratitude of the work and interest given by their community partners in this project. The nursing students were so grateful for all the time and openness shown by the recipients. These “community partners” did everything they could for the students for which the future nurses would be indebted.
They concluded that not only does the government need to promote the idea of organ donation more to the public and make it more of a “higher priority” but Goldie says there needs to be a clinic based in the area which would handle such requests. She says there needs to be work done by key, local stakeholders in order to get this completed. 
“We’re hoping we’ve laid the foundations with some community partners to encourage this (promotion of organ donations and the organ clinic),” adds Henson.
The students says the public needs to be more open to the idea of organ donation. All of this action by the nursing students is timely and pertinent because of the third reading on Oct. 29 of Calgary Foothills MLA Len Webber’s private member’s Bill 207: the Human Tissue and Organ Donation Amendment Act. It was given Royal Ascent and put into force Nov. 7.
A new organization has been created, Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Agency, to handle this information and will be fully operational within the next three to five years. In it, the 12-page bill amends chapter H-14.5 of the Statutes of Alberta 2006 with four amendments including the establishment of an online registry (Amendment 4.1(1) and when an adult consents that information goes to the (4.2 a) “Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Agency for inclusion in the online registry, and  (b) affix a sticker in the prescribed form indicating the consent on an area of the operator’s licence.”
With the online registry it’s easier to give consent to donate your organ if medical officials believe vital organs can still be used. Before, a signed documenting stating that official consent was given was required.
The nursing students believe it’s also important family members and the public in general need to be open to the idea. Family members can also give consent to have organs harvested for transplant possibilities.
“We want to push that message through,” says Henson of the organ donation consent. “It’s a difficult to deal with during (emotional times,) but there should be more comfort following knowing that you’ve helped someone.
“You need to have the talk before and not when they’re terminally ill, that’s when they can get the message across ... we understand, the decision is an emotional one.”
Goldie agrees and respects the fact for some, due to personal or religious beliefs, that organ donation is out of the question and not even a consideration. However, for those where that isn’t a problem, they are highly encouraging everyone to consider it and at least talk about it with family members. It’s all part of the  “empowerment process.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor