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Reflections from the Transplant Nurses Association Conference

By November 1, 2023No Comments

In a room full of Transplant Nurses, one can’t help but be inspired. Though Sydney put on the coldest October days in 30 years, the feeling inside the room of the Annual Conference for the Transplant Nurses Association, was warm. The orange Transplant Australia sign hung bright and bold, and many nurses came to visit our stand.  As many people provided input into our ‘Suggestions box’, they also enjoyed hearing about our work and how our members continue to celebrate and honour the gift of life.

Transplant clinics and units were represented from all over the country by the almost 200 nurses present. The theme of ‘Inclusion, Diversity and Empowerment’ rung through loud and clear, as over 25 presentations were delivered. Amazing stories were shared, from the work of the ‘National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce’ and the work in Alice Springs, (presented by kidney recipient Kelli Owen), to the testimony of refugee doctor now Australian Orthopedic surgeon, Professor Munjed Al Muderis reminding us that everyone has a story and deserves dignity, compassion and respect. In amongst his incredibly hard and life-changing story, there was a good reminder that the smallest gesture can make a big difference in someone’s life. His glass-half full attitude, perseverance through adversity and spirit of hopefulness brought a challenge to remember.

Dr Albert Shun, well respected surgeon for many of our Transplant Australia liver recipients, spoke of medical advances and his impacting work in PNG, alongside many other memorable and informative talks delivered by health professionals from around the country. Each session clearly communicated the ultimate goal of health and longevity of patients, inclusivity, best practice, medical advances and the importance of mental health and wellbeing for anyone experiencing medical trauma. A powerful talk from a palliative care nurse who had faced burnout, had everyone on their feet dancing, balloons flying and a sobering moment as ‘moral injury’ was highlighted as a resulting impact of covid on the mental health of medical professionals. With 20,000 Australian nurses resigning in 2021, Sarah Morse brought a reminder that nurses are not superheroes but incredible human beings who have been drawn to a profession of helping people, like those in need of a transplant.

Our very own Michelle Daley shared her story and the importance of Sports & Physical Activity to improve mental wellbeing. The ever-energetic renal nurse consultant Calina Ting , who has given so much of her expertise to Transplant Australia, as well as time caring for athletes at our recent World Transplant Games in Perth, reminded us of the power of the ‘lived experience’ to convey important health messages to different audiences. Her work in developing an animated video for Indigenous Australians is brilliant.

It remains a privilege for Transplant Australia to be invited to the national annual conference of the Transplant Nurses Association and it was wonderful to join with Jo O’Farrell and Chris Thomas to represent Transplant Australia. Of course, many of the nurses mentioned that they missed Matty Hempstalk’s presence. It seems his legacy will long be felt. It gave us an opportunity to better learn how our services can be tailored to complement the work of our nurses and we came away knowing wholeheartedly, recipients are in good hands.


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