I was there.
I was there the night you came into our operating theatre, the night when nobody knew your name.
I was there when we put a drain into your brain to try to stop it from swelling.
I was there that night when I went home and hugged my partner extra tight because for the moment that you were ‘unknown’ I was afraid that you were her.
I was there when you were so sick that your brain started to swell so we had to take out part of your skull.
I was there for every operation that followed. When we repaired your bleeding spleen, when we fixed you fractured femur, when your brain kept bleeding.
I was there every day, for hours as we tried to save your life. I ran, I sweat, I cried.
I was there when they decided that you’d had enough.
I was there when your family decided that you would give the ultimate gift and donate your organs.
I was there when your body couldn’t fight anymore.
I was there for your final operation.
I was there for your final act. For the most generous thing that you would do in your life.
I was there when they turned the anesthetic machines off because it couldn’t sense your heart beat anymore. It couldn’t sense your heart beat because it was in my hands.
I was there when your heart stopped beating. I held it in my hands as it beat its final beat.
I was there when we took your liver, your kidneys, your lungs, your pancreas, when we stripped you bare of everything that you had to give.
I was there when we found out that one of your organs was going to save the life of a dying six-year-old girl. I hope this brings some comfort to your family. Thank you.
I was there to make sure that you were presentable for your family who wanted to see you one last time
I was there to remove the breathing tube after all of the doctors had left. I wiped your mouth and removed the tape from your eyes.
I was there to bathe you and clothe you after your surgery, the nurse who made sure that you were treated with the respect that you deserve.
I was there for you.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there for your family. I couldn’t look after them; I had used everything I had looking after you.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there to comfort them as they grieved over your hollow body. I had two junior nurses in my care that needed me, to debrief, to help them understand what had just happened.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there to comfort your partner. I didn’t even have time to comfort myself.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there to take you to the morgue. I just couldn’t face you again but I know I left you in the care of a fantastic nurse. I know you were well looked after.
I was there, thinking about them, about you, thinking about the lives that we had just saved and the life that had just ended. Did you have a full life? Were you happy?
I was there in the tea room with my team as we sat and shed a quiet tear, contemplating our own mortality, awed by the selflessness of yourself and your family.
I was there and I still am. I am haunted by every step of your journey, by the image of you lying there open and exposed for the world to see, of the image of your empty body, naked and vulnerable.
I am here, remembering you. The gift that you have given to so many people, the lives that you have saved and I thank you. The recipients will never know you or of you but I feel like I do.
I have held your heart in my hands.
I was there.
If you want to register as an organ donor please click here and talk to your family about what you want should the unthinkable happen.
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