Supporting our transplant patients

“I was so pleased to get the opportunity to become part of the transplant team. I’ve always loved the process – from the start to the end of the journey, it’s something amazing.

“You really get to know your patients. They are going through a life changing experience and it can be a lengthy process, so you need to support them. It’s an emotional and often hard time for the recipient because they know it’s likely someone will die before they can have their transplant.”

Michelle Tarpey, Renal Transplant Co-ordinator, first became interested in organ donation when she spent 10 years as a staff nurse in Critical Care at Arrowe Park Hospital:

“While in Critical Care I worked closely with the specialist nurses for organ donation and I was really inspired to become more involved. In Critical Care I’d meet families while providing care for their loved ones and I’d see the heart-breaking decisions they had to make.

“I then joined the organ donation team at Aintree, where I stayed for three and a half years. It allowed me support families at their worst time and help them feel comfortable with any decision.

“There is a thorough assessment before an organ donation - checking the donor’s medical history, talking to their families and GPs - we need to ensure that it’s the best decision for the recipient.”

Michelle then became a diabetes specialist nurse for four years at the Royal, but when the opportunity came up to be part of the transplant team she jumped at the chance:

“I’m still learning, but part of my new role is to education recipients. Some are really positive, while others don’t want to accept that they’re on dialysis.

“We need to find out if the recipient is suitable for surgery. They often have complex health concerns, so a transplant isn’t the best option for everyone, and we help patients understand each decision. An organ is a precious resource and needs to be compatible and ensure it will improve their life afterwards.”

Michelle, who returned to ITU during COVID-19, added: “We’re keen to get back to the transplant numbers pre-COVID-19. Our living donor numbers are still low but it’s all about managing the risk and whether the donor is completely fit and healthy to donate.

“Everyone should have a conversation with their family and friends. Make your feelings clear if you would like to donate your organs and it’ll ease any pressure at a difficult time.”

Visit the Organ Donation website to find out more about organ donation and becoming a living donor.