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Today we meet one of the nurses who support families in Critical Care

This page was last updated: October 13th, 2021

The most important part of Rebecca Tolmon’s role is supporting people on ‘one of the hardest days of their lives’.

Rebecca will meet with families and have difficult conversations that many people would rather shy away from.

As a specialist nurse in organ donation, Rebecca (pictured above) meets families when sadly, despite all efforts, their loved one cannot survive. In these special and rare circumstances Rebecca will carefully broach the subject of helping others to live through donating their loved ones’ organs after they have died.

Rebecca is keen to talk about her role this Organ donation week 2021 (20-26th September) and hopefully encourage people to talk about organ donation. She said “Simple put organ donation saves and transforms lives. This organ donation week we want to inspire family conversations and registrations by putting children and young people at the heart of our message.”

“It can be hard to start these conversations but I’d like to reassure people that families will always be involved if organ donation is a possibility and by having these difficult conversations it means your loved ones will be certain what your decision is. Whatever you decide about organ donation, leave your family certain.”

With a background in both critical care and palliative care nursing Rebecca is able to support families to make sure their loved one receives end of life care in line with their wishes and the type of person they were. If organ donation is right for that person, their family and loved ones then Rebecca is able to support them through the whole process by working closely with the Critical Care team.

“I feel incredibly privileged to meet the families that I work with. These families put others first in their moment of loss and in doing so save the lives of others. The bravery and compassion they show is inspiring. I hope that through the gift of organ donation we are able to give them a sense of pride and legacy that their loved one has saved lives.”

With a background in both Critical Care and Palliative care Rebecca is experienced in supporting families when faced with the loss of a loved one. Rebecca continues “We have a varying number of referrals in Royal Cornwall each month. Typically the Critical Care or Emergency Department (Accident and Emergency) team will refer someone as a potential organ donor.

Most people don’t realise that only about one in one hundred people who die in the UK are able to become organ donors which is why it is so important that we increase awareness and have these difficult conversations. Following a referral I will meet with the family and support them with their options.

If organ donation is something that they want to explore then I will be with them each step of the way. I can help with spiritual or cultural needs and even organise precious keep sakes like hand prints for them to treasure in the future. We can’t take away the pain of what the family is going through but we can support them and provide their loved one the dignity and respect that they deserve.”

Organ Donation week is the ideal time for us to answer questions, speak to our loved ones or raise awareness. This week some iconic Cornish landmarks will be lit pink to show their support of organ donation. Why not get involved and use the hashtags #organdonation, #organdonationweek, #leavethemcertain and show us your photos?

Added on 22 September 2021, in News - Patient Care

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