Caring Clare hailed as hero

Clare Fletcher
Clare Fletcher

A SPECIALIST nurse has been praised for her outstanding dedication to a job in which she deals with both grief and absolute joy.

Clare Fletcher is the person who is responsible for the ultra-sensitive issue of organ donations.

She must console and consult with people whose loved ones have died, and with those whose lives could be saved by a new organ.

Her compassion has gained her a nomination for a Best of Health award from a member of the public who said: “Who knows how many countless lives Clare has saved and how many people’s suffering she has eased.

“I think it takes an extraordinary person to do this job.”

Clare was the critical care nurse who was on duty when the Hartlepool Mail’s head of news Paul Watson suffered a heart attack from which he never recovered.

He died aged 50 but had, days earlier, been so moved by a dedication ceremony to encourage people to become organ donors, that he told of his wish to donate.

Thanks to him, the lives of three people were saved in organ transplant donations.

Clare, the specialist nurse in organ donation based within Hartlepool, said: “I am really touched to be nominated. I don’t believe any nurse comes into a job for recommendations but it is touching that someone took the time to realise this is an important role.

Her job is to broach the difficult topic of organ donation with grieving families. Often, she admitted, the process can completely change people’s emotions.

“I dealt with a family who were distressed at the loss of a loved-one. Their body language changed when they learned an organ had gone to a young child. She became a hero.

“They were over the moon that a child aged under three had been helped. And even when an organ doesn’t go to a child but it goes to a mother or father of children, that organ means somebody can have a mummy or daddy for much longer. That is how far-reaching it can be.”

Clare also liaises with people who are due to receive organs.

It is two completely opposite emotions and Clare said: “I am there to deal with the whole process. I am there to support the family who is bereaved and that is the most harrowing part of the job, discussing a delicate subject.

“I am also there for when an organ is donated and if that goes well, and most of the time it does, there is a transplant that saves lives and transforms lives.”

Statistics show there were 76 people on the transplant list in Hartlepool and County Durham in the last financial year. Over the same period and in the same areas, 59 people had transplants.

Latest statistics show 258,865 people are registered to be potential donors in Hartlepool and County Durham but Clare said: “It is important that more people join and it is just as important that people tell their loved ones of their wishes.

“This is a really difficult time for any family and it makes a big difference if families know of a loved one’s wishes to donate organs.”