A gift in Memory

Tuesday 15 September, 2020
For the D’Souza family, an unexpected trip to hospital in September 2018 with a tragic ending paved the way for support and generosity for the heroes who helped to support the family through a heart breaking experience.

Asha D’Souza was admitted to North Shore Hospital in September 2018 suffering an unexpected medical episode. Feeling better after a stay of 1 day, Asha was hoping to be discharged the next day to recover at home with her family. Sadly, the following morning, Asha suffered a cardiac arrest and was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit

“For the 13 hours that Asha was in the ICU, the team were just awesome” says Mr D’Souza, Asha’s husband of 16 years. Many medical personnel as well as specialist care brought across from Auckland City Hospital was deployed to tend to the care of Asha over the course of the day, but sadly, on 12 September Asha passed away.

 “Let’s say there was not just a lot but the best of human and medical resource committed to trying to get Asha pull through. If Asha leaving us was meant to be our destiny, I couldn’t have asked for more in terms of the effort that went into trying to keep her with us.” – Mr D’Souza

From day to night, through shift changes and breaks, Mr D’Souza bore witness to the incredible Nursing Staff at ICU who tended to Asha during her final hours.

“The care was so dignified; it’s something I’ll always carry close to my heart” says Mr D’Souza.

After such a harrowing and life changing experience, Mr D’Souza was so moved by the quality of care of his wife in her final hours, he was determined to find a way to thank the incredible nursing staff who had made such a difference for him in his experience whilst at the same time honouring the memory of his beloved wife. He approached the Charge Nurse Manager, Marcelle Mafi who told Mr D’Souza she would put it to the nursing team to come up with a cause that the family could support.

After collaborating with the team and Mr D’Souza, the Asha D’Souza Scholarship fund was established to provide nurses in ICU with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills that are so instrumental in the care of patients.

Left to right: 2019 Scholarship winners; Joanne Theasby, Maud Carpenter and ICU Charge Nurse Manager, Marcelle Mafi

“Mr D’Souza’s kindness and gratitude towards us has been overwhelming and we are so grateful to for his generosity towards us. Much to both my and David’s delight, we have had nearly eight people receive these scholarships to attend courses in developing their nursing skills.” – Marcelle Mafi, Charge Nurse Manager, NSH ICU

The scholarship is awarded every year on Asha’s birthday and has so far been used for staff to travel to Hawkes Bay to attend the Hawkes Bay District Health Board’s BASIC training course – teaching practical management of critically ill patients. A Post-Graduate Study grant for ‘Advanced Assessment and Clinical Reasoning’ at Auckland University was awarded this year as well. These opportunities for further study allow our nursing staff to learn new skills themselves and bring those skills back to the ward to share with their colleagues.

“The conference was amazing, I learned so much and was able to provide teaching to my colleagues, as well as commencing a wound care guide and information sheet- with the hope of making my colleagues feel more comfortable about making clinical decisions.” – Joanne Theasby, Specialist Nurse, NSH ICU

The dedication and compassion shared by all of our healthcare workers are what make them our heroes. In some of a persons’ most vulnerable moments, we rely on the wonderful staff in our hospitals and community health services to step up and apply their skills and knowledge in what can sometimes be a  very tense and high-stress situation. The appreciation and gratitude we feel for them is what makes these gifts so special. We all know how it feels to want to give back and Mr D’Souza has found a way to give back in a way that means so much to our wonderful nursing staff and the patients they care for, just like Mrs Asha D’Souza.

 “It was emotional and wonderful for me to meet with Mr D’Souza again, as I was part of the ICU team who was looking after Mrs D’Souza when she died. I was blown away with the incredible generosity Mr D’Souza has, and reflects the kind and loving nature of both Mr & Mrs D’Souza” Joanne Theasby – Asha D’Souza Scholarship recipient 2019.

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