Some 55 members and friends of the RVH Liver Support Group attended a members’ meeting in the Sir Samuel Irwin Lecture Theatre on the evening of Thursday 27th October.
Donald Cairnduff (chair) spoke briefly about the work of the Group since the last meeting, highlighting continued successful outreach on the Helpdesk, at which 1,100 contacts with patients had now been recorded; continued unseen and invaluable work on one-to-one patient support by committee members with responsibility for patient care; and the publication on the website of Before and After transplant stories during Organ Donation week in September. The week has passed but the shortage of organs hasn’t; the stories can still be found at https://rvhliversupportgroup.org/category/latest-news. Please continue to share them.
The most intense work in recent months involving the whole committee, had been the writing and printing of a fundraising pack containing an information booklet and a series of relevant inserts. This work had been led by Seamus Cunningham, Fundraising Co-ordinator, who explained to the audience how the pack had developed from an idea of his for formalising this aspect of our work to the highly professional publication that was on display at the meeting. He, Sharon Millen (Vice Chair) and Donald Cairnduff had written the various sections during the summer, since when it had been rigorously checked and re-checked by all on the committee. It was hoped that this work would yield three outcomes to the advantage of the Group: that all future fundraisers would be well informed of what we do and why we do it; that fundraising efforts would generate the maximum financial return; and that all fundraisers would stay on the right side of the law and of health and safety regulations.
The theme for the rest of the evening was Who Cares?, explored through reflections on the challenges and rewards of caring for loved ones with liver conditions. Three friends of the Group shared their experiences: Lynn Kirk, wife of Gordon, transplanted in November 2015; Sheila Watt, mother of 15 year old Megan who has a chronic liver condition; and Maeve Curley, mother of Ted who has already received a liver transplant at the age of 3. Maeve was unable to attend because she had been called into hospital herself but had kindly sent her answers in advance, which were read by Eileen Hearst. The sustained attention of their audience for almost an hour and the willingness of the audience to share their own experiences as carers was tribute to the clarity and the searing honesty of the speakers.
On a night of powerful and ultimately inspiring talk, perhaps the most memorable words are Megan’s, quoted by her mother Sheila: I have liver disease. Liver disease doesn’t have me.