Yesterday was Transplant Nurses Day; as a charge nurse on our step-down unit, it is such a deep honor to work so closely with some of the best nurses around. Every single day, I am awed by the works of the nurses. We care for the types of patients who are considered to be ICU patients in other facilities.
- A nurse is the first person to lay hands on a patient whose heart has stopped to initiate CPR. When God saves a life, it is the nurse who feels that heart begin to beat again beneath her hands.
- A nurse is the one to recognize the earliest signs that a patient is having a stroke, to get the needed diagnostic tests ordered for a patient, and to administer life saving medication.
- It is a nurse who touches her patient’s cool skin when she hears the words, “I just don’t feel right,” and realizes her patient is having a heart attack. That same nurse sees a slight change in blood pressure with another patient, gets orders for a sepsis work-up, starts antibiotics immediately, and saves the patient a trip to ICU… or worse.
- A nurse is the one who catches an error in medication dosing before it reaches the patient.
- A nurse is the one who teaches a new doctor which medication reverses the effects of benzodiazepines with a patient who is barely breathing, gives the medicines, and watches the patient wake up.
- A nurse holds a 41 year old man newly diagnosed with end-stage heart failure in her arms and lets him cry big tears on her shoulder as he worries about what will become of his wife and three children.
- A nurse shows her patient who just received a kidney transplant the urine pouring into his foley catheter, sees the tears of joy in his eyes, and chants with him and his family that pee is beautiful.
- A nurse puts her stethoscope in her patient’s ears and lets him listen for the first time to the sound of the heart that was transplanted into his body a few days before.
- A nurse holds a ten-year old little girl’s hand as she whispers a final goodbye to her dying mother.
- A nurse cheers loudly with unabashed shouts of “Whoo-hoo!” as she watches a patient who wasn’t expected to live walk out of the hospital.
- Nurses are the ones who teach transplant patients how to avoid infections (which can be lethal) once they go home, and teach them self care so that they can enjoy their new chance at life.
- When there is no hope left for a patient and the family says, “There’s nothing anyone can do,” it’s the nurse who tells them “There is something we can do. We can keep your dad comfortable.”
These are just a few of the things our nurses do…