Something very positive coming out of sadness

Clare Jones, specialist nurse - organ donation, at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals
Clare Jones, specialist nurse - organ donation, at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals
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SPECIALIST nurse Clare Jones will never forget some of the families she has worked with.

The mum approaches devastated families with loved ones in critical care at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals to ask if they would like to consider organ donation after their death.

It is an emotional role – but one the 43-year-old believes can help create something positive by potentially giving others a second chance at life.

Clare, speaking as part of The Star-backed Gift of Life campaign to recruit 12,000 more organ donors, said: “Lots of people say to me ‘how do you do your job on a daily basis?’ and it is very, very sad.

“Some of the families I will never forget.

“But there is a lot of positivity and we do build good relationships with families, we stay in touch with them for about a year.

“I have to remind myself that the death of that person would have happened anyway and the donation is separate.

“People say organ donation is so sad and we always say donation is not the sad part.

“Something very positive could come out of that death and we do know that families take a lot of comfort in knowing it has helped other people.

“It always amazes me that people in a traumatic situation can think about others – I take my hat off to them.”

Clare’s job came about after the Government decided every hospital in the country should have a ‘specialist nurse: organ donation’ role to increase the number of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

The former critical care nurse has backed the Gift of Life campaign and highlighted how an already small pool of donors is shrunk further.

Some people are not medically suitable to donate, for example if they have active cancer.

And around 40 per cent of people on the register do not end up having their wishes honoured because their grieving families did not know.

Clare, who lives in Carterknowle, said: “People think if they sign up they absolutely will be a donor but the actual amount who do is very small because you have to die in a critical care unit.

“It’s important that we take every opportunity and give the option to families, sometimes they will bring it up themselves which is really helpful.”

Clare has explained her job with the NHS Blood and Transplant Service to her own children – and said the death of a youngster can be one of the hardest situations she has to deal with.

She added: “Children do die in hospitals and do go on to donate their organs, we’ve had a number do that.

“If it’s a person in their forties with parents still alive it’s always especially sad that the death is happening the wrong way round, I think. ”

Keeping in touch

* Clare’s role includes educating people about organ donation, approaching families of critically ill patients to discuss their wishes and keeping in touch with the loved ones of donors.

* After transplants take place Clare can help the two families get in contact

* Clare’s team can deal with between two and 10 referrals a day from the region’s hospitals

* Signing up takes just minutes and can be done online at Organ Donation text SAVE to 84118 or by calling 0300 123 23 23.

Signing up to register

* Joining the register records your agreement to the use of your organs and tissue for transplantation after your death.

* Tell your family. Almost half of donors’ intentions cannot be honoured because families were unaware of their wishes.

* Only 31 per cent of people are on the NHS organ donor register.

* More than 10,000 people in the UK need a transplant. Three a day, or 1,000 a year, will die as there are not enough organs.

* The transplant games take place in Sheffield between August 15 and 18. Visit British Transplant Games to get involved.