Being part of a team coordinating life-changing procedures for transplant recipients and their families is a role Rachel James holds with great privilege and pride.
The newly appointed Mackay Hospital and Health Service transplant coordinator brings more than 15 years of renal experience to assist and guide potential kidney recipients through the transplant process.
Starting her nursing career at the Melbourne Private Hospital in 2005, Rachel said it was a specialised nursing opportunity that piqued her interest in renal care.
“My first introduction to the renal system began with nursing patients on the ward post-transplantation,” Rachel said.
“Seeing the difference a kidney transplant made to their lives, thanks to the generous gift of others, was an inspiration to work in this field of nursing,” Rachel said.
Rachel has been with Mackay HHS for 10 years now, seven of those in the renal unit treating patients and three as the unit’s nurse manager.
She said her transplant coordinator role involves working closely with nephrologists, chronic kidney disease and renal teams arranging potential kidney transplants for the region’s dialysis patients.
“The process involves working up suitable patients for referral to the Princess Alexandra Hospital for living or deceased donor transplants,” she said.
“It also involves ordering or following up on a number of investigations that are required prior to sending a referral to the PAH.
“The criteria is quite stringent, given that a kidney transplant is considered major surgery. This is impacted by the fact that, sadly, there simply are not enough donor organs for those who require a transplant.”
Rachel said one the of most satisfying moments of her role is when a patient returns to Mackay following a transplant in Brisbane.
“It is so rewarding to see the gratitude and appreciation a patient expresses for the kidney donor and their family who have ultimately made a life-changing donation,” she said.
“Receiving a transplant means so much more than just not coming in to undergo dialysis anymore. It means feeling well, it means living and it means more quality time with family and friends.”
This week marks DonateLife Week, a national awareness week dedicated to promoting organ and tissue donation.
With more than 1,600 Australians on the waitlist for a life-saving transplant, every new registration counts. Registering to be an organ and tissue donor is quick and easy using the online form via donatelife.gov.au, where a minute could one day save the lives of many.
Amie Galletly | Communications Officer | 4885 6808