Toronto Metropolitan University nursing graduate Afsana Lallani is repaying the kindness of a stranger who gave her an organ by helping others who were in her situation.
Lallani graduated last June after being in the nursing program at TMU for six years. In her time as a student, she had primary sclerosing cholangitis. It is a rare autoimmune condition with no cure. The Canadian Liver Foundation describes the symptoms as “the bile ducts (small tubes through which bile flows from the liver to the gallbladder and intestines) progressively decrease in size due to inflammation and scarring.”
She had no one in her family who was a suitable donor. Lallani took a proactive approach and posted on social media that she was looking for a donor. After sometime an anonymous person stepped forward and donated her liver to Lallani.
“I was walking home, actually. I was gonna go check my mailbox. And I got the call, right when I reached my mailbox. As the lady on the phone was telling me these things, I was unlocking my mailbox to find the package that they sent for me to prepare for the surgery. Hearing it on the phone, opening the package at the same time, it was almost like Christmas morning,” says Lallani.
After a year of recovery, Lallani was able to pick up where she left her education on hold and graduate. Currently, she is preparing for her tests to become a registered nurse. While she has been finishing school and preparing for the registration, she has been helping others in her situation find living donors.
“I’ve been working as a campaign manager where I’m trying to give back to the transplant system, and in a way that I know and then a familiar way where I can apply my lived experience and skills,” says Lallani. “I create these social media campaigns just like I did for myself, but now I do it for others in need of a liver transplant and don’t have a donor match. [The patient and I] work on this campaign together until they do find that donor.”
While continuing this helping others find living donors for transplants she is also aiming to help kids as a nurse. Growing up she was a “hospital baby” as she had another autoimmune condition that caused her to spend a lot of time there.
She says that while she was growing up she saw the nurses and doctors as friends. Her positive and negative experiences with nurses is what drove her to join the profession. Lallani says she does not want her patients to feel what she felt experiencing a bad nurse.
“The hospital became my second home. And I loved going there. I wore my Halloween costume there when I was younger. And I genuinely believed that my doctors and nurses were my friends. I was excited to go and that gave me hope,” says Lallani. “I also had that feeling that when I experienced a good nurse, I wanted to be that nurse for someone else.”
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