A touching memoriam to a courageous man? is how Dr Gerard Meachery, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine in the Freeman Hospital?s cardiothoracic unit, described a donation made by Emma Osborne last week in memory of her husband Jonathan who passed away in August 2014.
The donation of ?10,000 to the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Charity, along with funds from the Freeman Heart & Lung Transplant Association and support from the Trust?s Estates Department, has enabled the refurbishment of the visitor?s room on Ward 21, the adult cardiothoracic critical care unit which specialises in the care of patients following complex heart and lung surgeries. The refurbishment includes a new kitchen, modern, comfortable furniture, dining table and chairs and a specially commissioned piece of artwork by Emma?s sister Victoria Curling-Eriksson from her studio in Sweden.
At a celebratory lunch to officially open the newly refurbished visitor?s room, Emma Osborne was joined by medical and nursing staff involved in the care of her husband and senior Trust representatives including Dr Meachery, Cardiothoracic Surgeons Professor John Dark and Professor Stephan Schueler, Deputy Director of Nursing Mrs Frances Blackburn, Matron of Ward 21 Lisa Guthrie and Medical Director Mr Andy Welch.
Jonathan Osborne was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis at the age of 40 but managed to continue leading an active life in the early years of his diagnosis. In August 2013, after 9 weeks on a priority list, Jon was air-lifted to Newcastle from his home near Bristol and received successful lung transplant surgery at the Freeman. He managed to regain a better quality of life and spent valuable time with his friends and family following surgery. However, a year to the day of his transplant, Jon became ill with pneumonia and further complications with his heart and kidneys and had to undergo more, very complex surgery back at the Freeman. He sadly lost his courageous battle after a week in ITU at the age of only 47.
Emma spoke movingly about Jonathan who was described as ?a keen sportsman, successful businessman and devoted father and husband who had a cheery smile and sense of humour.? She explained how she had spent many hours in the Ward 21 visitor?s room when Jon was really poorly:
?I realised that everyone using that room was undergoing the same traumatic experience as me and after Jon died, I wanted to make a personal gesture of goodwill to say thank you to the Freeman for giving us an extra year with him. Improving the facilities for others going through a similarly traumatic time seemed appropriate and I?m so happy to see how much brighter and more comfortable the visitor?s room is now.
Dr Meachery, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine who treated Jon in the cardiothoracic unit said: ?We have been overwhelmed by Emma?s generosity which is a lasting legacy in memory of Jonathan and will undoubtedly make life a little bit easier for relatives and friends of our transplant patients in the future. I was struck by Jon?s courage when I met him and Emma shares his bravery and resolve. She has become a personal friend to many at the Freeman and we are very grateful to her and all those who have raised funds and donated money in Jon?s memory, including the Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant Association and our own Estates Department who carried out the refurbishment and kitchen re-fit.?
Emma has now set up her own charity ?Transplant Association? and is due to launch a multi-organ transplant website for patients and relatives inspired by her own difficulties in trying to find out information about the issues relating to organ transplantation. The website will promote organ donation and also signpost patients and their families to available psychological support to help them deal with the impact of transplant. Transplant Association has also funded a bespoke nationally recognised Counselling Course and has worked in conjunction with Tyne Metropolitan College to deliver this. So far it has enabled four separate cohorts of staff from Ward 38 at the Freeman to be trained, enabling them to better understand patient and families? concerns and signpost them for appropriate psychological support. The initial feedback has been extremely positive. It is now their intention to fund a further group of staff working in critical care on Ward 21.
Psychology is an area that Emma feels very passionate about in providing patients and their families with the support that is so vital throughout the stressful ?roller coaster? of transplant.