Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Gift of Life

On Friday, I was requested to go into work early because we had a nurse coming to do an eye enucleation that they had missed at the hospital.  This type of procedure is rarely done at a funeral home, but since she was a donor and the family consented it's tough to pass up this chance.  I've only ever encountered this procedure one other time in my 15 years in this career and frankly that was back at the beginning of it when I was doing my apprenticeship. 

Enucleation is the removal of the eyeball(s), but the adjacent structures of the eye socket and eyelids remain intact.The purpose of this procedure on a deceased person is so the cornea can be used for a living person who needs a corneal transplant through a surgical operation called keratoplasty.   Basically giving sight to someone who otherwise does not have it.  A definite good thing.

Of course anyone who knows me is aware that I would be all over watching this and doing anything I could to assist or help with the procedure.  The nurse who came to do it (this is a volunteer position with the Trillium Gift of Life Network) was super awesome, friendly and informative.  She walked me through the entire procedure as if I was one of her students.  It was actually quite informative.  I've posted a diagram, to the left, of the procedure from start to finish.

Unfortunately, because of the time period from her actual death to the time the nurse was able to get to her to remove her eyes was too long, they were just going to be used for student teachings.  Still a worthy cause though.  

So while I was excited to learn something new, there is a more worthy reason to this blog post.  If you have been generous and signed your driver's license as a potential organ donor, please make sure you tell someone.  Preferably the person who would be in charge of making any medical decisions (prior to your death) and estate decisions (after your death).  It's a very awkward moment for a nurse to approach you immediately after a loved one has passed away and ask for any organ donations.  The time frame is so sensitive and the opportunity is often lost because of a fear of upsetting an already distraught family. 

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