I really felt for Judy. As one of the region's transplant coordinators, her entire job revolves around this.
She has to travel to a local hospital and speak with grief-stricken families. It must be intimidating, facing them en masse.
Every person there has to know what's going on. In their tears and hysteria, they have to understand and agree.
I watched her neck turn blotchy with a rising blush. She kept her compassion alongside her professionalism. Despite her journey here, we could have backed down at any time.
There is a hierarchy of next of kin. Even with the whole family in agreement, the person closest can still say no. Judy had to walk a path of diplomacy. She did it with grace.
With formal consent given in bits of paper, the process swung into action. No lessening of care, no distress for the person on life support. But out in the wider world, 'phone calls are being made.
People who are going to die, if they don't receive a working organ, are called in. Imagine then the hope of their families, each having the list of risks high-lighted. It might not work. It might work. The outcome hinges on so many factors.
But the first has been won. The dying man's family gave their consent.
In three separate operating theaters, three teams scrubbed up. Time was of the essence. Once life support was switched off, then death had to occur within an hour. Beyond that, the organs will be rendered useless and can't be used. Nothing is going to happen to speed that up. Painkillers or sedatives will be given, if there is any distress.
The only things that changed were that no machines are artificially keeping this person alive. Resuscitation will not occur, if this person's heart stops beating. His family are all around him, holding his hand, kissing his face, saying their final words into his ear.
They can only imagine what it's like around two other beds. There the atmosphere is hope, tinged with anxiety. If he doesn't die in time, then they will all have to go home. If he does, then there is still major surgery involved to give them his organs.
The dying man's family see none of this. It's not in their ward. It might not even be in their hospital. They can only be certain that somewhere down a corridor, local surgeons are waiting to take his organs.
Five minutes after death. The family will be given five minutes to finish their goodbyes after he has gone. They have all the time in the world beforehand.
We all wait. Our worlds filling only the confines of that cubicle. Focused on the deathbed. But an hour passes and he remained. It feels like a senseless death has been rendered all the more so, because time went on.
Judy the transplant coordinator, dressed now in her scrubs, came to say her goodbyes. She was handing over to a ward nurse, after hours on the job.
She must have been bitterly disappointed, but she didn't show it. All her work that night came to nothing. She would have to speak with two families, who'd be told that their loved ones couldn't be saved tonight.
But she acted like this was fine. To my family, this was all good. My uncle breathed still.
I watched my mother give her a big hug. It came from us all. I couldn't do Judy's job. It would break my heart too much. But I'm glad that she is there to do it for us.
And I can do my own job. I can raise awareness of the reality here. I can write.