Last Friday night staff and patients gathered at the Manningham Hotel in Bulleen to acknowledge five years of the Bone Marrow Transplant program, running since the ONJ Centre opened in 2013.
The focus was both on the survivors, their carers and the staff who looked after them, in particular the nurses from Ward 7 South who see the patients when they are very sick but rarely get to see them come out the other end leading productive and rewarding lives.
Tottie Goldsmith, Olivia Newton-John’s niece and ONJ Centre Goodwill Ambassador, welcomed guests for the evening before the 150-strong crowd heard from two patients, Guillaume and Suzi, on how they are loving and living life post-transplant. Both spoke of the many setbacks and obstacles they had to overcome during their journey, and how the acts of kindness from the staff at the ONJ Centre are memories that will live with them forever.
“As much as I love the ONJ Centre it was so great to congregate in an area away from the hospital. It was wonderful to touch base again with remarkable people who I had met along my journey and who encouraged me when I was so vulnerable and full of doubt and fear. It enabled Alex (Suzi’s husband) and I to get the opportunity to thank them for the warmth, kindness and love they showed us when we were at our lowest” said Suzi.
Guillaume, who recently competed in the Australian Transplant Games and won gold in the triathlon, donated his medal to the ONJ Centre in recognition of the role the ONJ Centre played in helping him win gold. Some patients were motivated enough to sign up for the next transplant games in a couple of years.
Another patient Stuart, a long time entertainer in the music industry, played guitar for the crowd while his daughter made her debut singing performance with her father.
Professor Andrew Grigg took the opportunity to acknowledge the courage of the patients and the sacrifices their carers make in looking after them in good times and bad. He also acknowledged the dedication, commitment and teamwork of the nurses, doctors and allied health staff, reminding them to never underestimate the impact they have in a patient’s life.
There was a palpable sense of warmth and unity in the room and a lot of positive feedback about the night from staff and patients. Having these reunions on a regular basis is sure to become part of the tradition of the transplant unit at ONJ. The organising committee put in an enormous amount of hard work and should be congratulated for their efforts in making the evening such a success.
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