Posted on 19 September, 2013

Genna 1 Genna 2

Hi my name is Genna! I’m a registered nurse from Adelaide and I specialise in cardiac nursing. I currently work in a cardiac step down unit, coronary care and a chest pain assessment centre.

I heard about Open Heart International and the great work that is done from a cardiothoracic surgeon I work. He has volunteered with the Fiji team regularly. Together with a colleague, Liz, we applied and were were both accepted to travel to Tonga! I really would implore anyone reading this who has thought about volunteering their medical skills but unsure or a little nervous of the unknown, please put your hand up and give it a go! You will not regret it.

I have worked on the ward this trip, so I take care of patients before their operation and when they come back from ICU until they go home. There is fantastic camaraderie with the whole team this trip and I am working with some amazing Tongan nurses too who are so keen to learn more and have taught me a thing or to about nursing in Tonga along the way… Improvisation is a key word!

What has touched me most is the spirit of the Tongan people; kind and resilient are a few words that spring to mind. They really do go without so many things that we take for granted at home. It is so important that Open Heart International comes here because lives are permanently changed.

The Tongan people that I have had the privilege to care for have the biggest hearts- in two ways! They feel that they have little to give materially yet they will give you anything they can- whether it be sharing a meal, sharing their gratitude, or sharing some tears!! (There certainly have been a lot of happy tears this trip). In a literal sense they really do have big hearts- the biggest hearts on an X-ray that I have ever seen!

Surgery gives them the chance to live again. These people are only young, and some can’t walk for 50 metres or climb a few steps without feeling very unwell due to their heart valves barely working. Open Heart International provides quality of life and hope to whole families for years to come!

We are going back to Australia in two days time and I will be sad to leave but I hope to bring awareness to this cause on my return home and continue to help Tonga and Open Heart International to the best of my ability.

So, once again, if you have something to give whether it be your time or a few dollars please consider doing so! It certainly does change lives!

Tags:  Tonga,