Dr Annabel Greenwood
As Trainee Representative for Paediatric and Neonatal Organ Donation for Cardiff and the Vale Health Board, I was very much looking forward to this opportunity to spread the word and raise awareness about organ donation.
The concept of organ donation in paediatric practice is relatively new but currently very topical, and a recent article in the March edition of Archives of Disease in Childhood highlighted the fact that despite recent attempts to promote organ donation, donation rates remain fairly static, particularly in the neonatal intensive care setting.
The knowledge and experience of paediatric organ donation amongst healthcare professionals is limited, and it was therefore of no surprise that when we enquired at the beginning of the simulation day whether participants had ever been involved in a case of organ donation, only two had previous experience, one of which was in adult medicine.
The paediatric simulation day was the first of its kind in Wales, and it was fantastic to see such a wide variety of the multidisciplinary team in attendance, all enthusiastic to learn more about organ donation and the processes involved.
The day began with a case presentation from Gail Melvin, one of the brilliant ‘SNODs’ (Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation). She recalled one of her experiences of neonatal organ donation and it provided a great insight into the referral process from the consideration of organ donation, right through to harvesting in theatre.
This set the scene perfectly for the simulation scenario, as the aim was to work through a case from presentation to the emergency department, to withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, prior to organ donation. The scenario was broken down into sections, with a debriefing session after each section to optimise the opportunity for discussion. Actors played the role of the child’s parents, allowing candidates to practice the often difficult and sensitive encounters with families regarding the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment.
The afternoon session consisted of workshop sessions, covering brainstem death testing and communication skills stations relevant to organ donation. There was also a brief session outlining a quality improvement project I am currently undertaking aiming to raise awareness of paediatric and neonatal organ donation at a trainee level.
The day was brought to a close with a parents’ account of their personal experiences of organ donation. This really hit home the huge impact organ donation can have not only on those receiving a donation, but also on the families of the donor. It was incredible to hear the strength the family were able to take in the face of extreme adversity and despair, in the knowledge that their child was able to help save the life of others through the donation of their organs.
The organ donation team received excellent feedback regarding the simulation day, and following its success, we hope to build upon our education programme, extending similar opportunities to healthcare professionals across Wales. A date for the diary is an upcoming organ donation deanery study day in August…final details to be confirmed!
If you have any queries about paediatric organ donation or would like to get involved, please feel free to contact me.
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