Nursing students see effects of organ donation
Starla Cassani held up a picture of her family posed with the family of a boy who received Cassani’s son’s heart in a transplant seven years ago.
“I call it two families joined by one heart,” she said.
Cassani, of Reno, spoke Thursday to nursing students at Western Nevada Community College about organ donation.
Paul Saucedo, trustee on the Carson-Tahoe Hospital Board, told of his experience in receiving a liver transplant. His wife, Beverly, recounted her experience supporting him through the ordeal.
They were all part of a presentation prepared by Registered Nurse Virginia Reese, who is the transplant coordinator for the California Transplant Donor Network.
Instructor and RN Carolyn Larrivee said she scheduled the presentation to give students a more realistic look at nursing.
“This is something that there is never enough publicity for,” Larrivee said. “They get to see the personal impact as well as the professional impact that organ donation can have.”
Alina Cassaday, a nursing student, said the presentation made her reevaluate a decision she made a year ago.
She said her father died then, and her family was asked if they would approve a donation of his eyes.
“At the time we said no,” she said. “You’re so upset at the time, you’re not thinking right.”
After listening to the experiences of the Saucedos and Cassani, she said she probably would have made a different decision today.
“Maybe if I would have gotten to hear this first, I would have said yes,” she said.
Cassani said the decision to donate her son’s organs was one of the best she and her husband have made. She said it changed their despair to hope.
“The greatest gift we’ve ever been given was being asked to donate Colby’s organs,” she said.
Her son Colby’s heart went to now 7-year-old Brayden of Colorado.
She said the first time Brayden came to visit her family in Reno, he crawled in bed with her and her husband and invited her to listen to his heartbeat.
“I can’t tell you the feeling of lying in your own bed and listening to this little boy’s heart that used to be in your son’s body.”
She said she wants people to understand that organ donation is not about having to die so that someone else can live.
“My loved one was already dead,” she said. “We chose to donate his organs.”
Paul Saucedo said he wanted the nurses to go into the field with compassion.
“If you reach out and just touch that person’s hand and hold it until they’re able to get control, you’re like an angel,” he said.