I would like to tell you about a coworker of mine, Desiree Anderson, and the kindheartedness she demonstrates to her patients on a daily basis. There is one particular patient who she showed extraordinary compassion to him and his family, above and beyond.
A young man came to us due to a tragic accident, and he was critically ill. His family was distraught over the gravity of the impending loss they were sure to encounter soon. The tragedy deepened as Desiree heard in report that the family lived many states away and they would be unable to travel the long distance to be at their son's bedside in his last hours of life. Desiree not only took excellent care of the patient, but she also took time to call the family every hour to update them on his progression. She made an unbreakable bond with the family during the shifts she was with him. After every conversation she had with his parents, she would return to her vigil at his bedside, holding his hand, telling him how much he was loved and how much his family wanted to be there with him.
When it was determined that any hope for recovery was gone and he was brain dead, Life Gift and this spectacular nurse called his parents to discuss the possibilities for organ donation. His parents selflessly made the decision to donate his organs. Desiree was so moved by the courageous parents who could make this decision from five states away, knowing they would never hold their little boy again. She felt determined to ease their suffering somehow. She stayed with him through the donation process. In the OR, just before his face went cold, she whispered in his ear, "Your family loves you very much. Thank you for the gift of life you are giving to so many others. Go with God now, my friend."
Before her patient was taken away, she made a mold of his hand to send to his family. At least then they could have something physical of their son's to touch and hold, remembering the undying love they had for him. She made numerous attempts at the mold, but none were "perfect." On her last try, she asked God to put his hand on hers while she pressed the mold. It was perfect. She let it dry, and then turned it over to see the finished product. She sat staring at a huge crack down the middle, and she began to cry. Her husband heard her and came over to sit by her side. "Babe, if you were his mother, would you rather have a mold of your son's hand with a crack in it or none at all?"
She agreed and decided to send it along with a very detailed letter introducing herself and describing the last days of their precious son's life. "If it was my son, I would want to know everything, no matter how painful," she wrote. His mother was so moved that she sent the nurse back a card with words of love and gratitude for all she had done for them and for her son. The letter had helped her find peace.
We are so proud to have Desiree Anderson at the bedside in our unit; caring for others as though they were her own. It is what she does every day.