Melissa Edwards RN

Head Nurse, 5NW, Deluxe Suites Pavilion
Start Date: 1996

LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE

I worked for a time with patients who were on left ventricular assist devices, which support the heart while patients are waiting for a transplant, and it was an amazing experience. At that time, patients were sometimes in the hospital for a full year, and I really got to know them and their families very well. Through these relationships, I began to look at life differently and appreciate life more than ever.

Many of the cardiac devices were experimental and hard to adjust to. Patients had to make major adjustments in their lives. Many patients thought that their lives would go back to "normal" after a heart transplant, but I had to help them come to terms with the fact that they would always be on medication and they would have to live differently than before their disease.

It was also hard for some patients who received a heart to deal with the fact that someone had to die in order for them to live. But this helped me prepare my own family for such a possibility. I learned a lot professionally and personally, and about the psychosocial effects of experimental treatments. My experience with these patients changed who I am as a person, and I'm grateful for that.