Organ Donation is a difficult conversation for anyone to have, whether you’re in a professional role within the health service or a family member having the conversation with their loved ones.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board is the first in Wales to appoint a Donor Family Support Volunteer.
The Donor Family Volunteer will support families by providing support and guidance. They will provide emotional support to donor families during the donation process, at a time when the specialist nurse is performing other important clinical duties relating to the donor. The volunteer will also work closely with the chaplaincy service and will be trained to provide spiritual care to donor families should they request it.
Odette Ward from Aberdare took up post as the ‘Donor Family Support Volunteer’ in January. Odette has been a patient representative on the Organ Donation Committee for Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Heath Board for many years and has contributed hugely to the engagement of such a sensitive subject. She has talked about her experience on radio and in conferences as well as designing a plaque for the Health Board.
Odette volunteered to become a member of the group after sadly losing her husband Paul. Odette carried out Paul’s wishes and donated his organs, something she feels very passionate about.
Odette says: “I feel very honoured to be part of a great team that do such a truly amazing job.
“Being able to help a family at a time in their lives when time has stopped still, where pain is physical, is a gift for me. The decision they have to make is life changing for them, their families and for the person awaiting an organ donation.
“To be able to comfort and help is just a tiny part of giving back. Because in life I have learnt ‘In Giving You Receive’.”
Stephen Regan, Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation said: “Odette is a very welcome addition to our team. Families need lots of support at this incredibly difficult time in their lives and to have someone who can spend time sitting with families and offering support is not only essential for the families but beneficial to our team of specialist nurses.”