International Nurses Day marked a special occasion at Bundaberg Hospital, with nurses rallying together today to support colleague Megan Jonas after she suffered a stroke in January.
Joined by family, friends and the Hitz FM Helping Hands initiative, the group held a barbecue at the hospital in support of Megan and to raise funds to help her recovery.
The registered nurse from Bundaberg Hospital suffered a stroke on the Gold Coast the morning she was due to start a dialysis process and has faced a range of challenges since.
No stranger to setbacks, Megan spent five months in hospital with the stroke causing paralysis down one side of her body as well as critical brain swelling that led to the removal of part of her skull to ease the pressure as it expanded.
Her sister Kylie Jonas said Megan had only now just returned to her hometown.
“She was in hospital on the Gold Coast from January 15, only returning to Bundaberg Hospital this week,” she said.
“It is just a waiting game now to get her into rehab to get her back to a point where she can return home to us.”
While Megan currently has no movement in her left arm or leg, the rehab process will aim to build back strength or provide her the ability to learn how to function with the mobility she has.
“The rehab is basically aiming to get her strength built up to either be able to do stuff without movement on that side of her body, or possibly begin getting a little bit of movement back,” Kylie said.
“We are hoping they will get her strength built up enough to be able to stand on one leg which would just be phenomenal, but it is a waiting game to see how far they can get her.”
Throughout her life, Megan has previously suffered organ failure, undergone lengthy periods of dialysis, had two organ transplants and been put in a coma due to high blood pressure.
Despite all of this, Megan still managed to complete a nursing degree.
Nursing a passion for Megan
“I think part of why she became a nurse was because she has always wanted to help other people, like people have helped her,” Kylie said.
“She completed her degree while going through dialysis in 2012 when she was quite ill and graduated just after she had her transplant, which is pretty amazing.”
Although she saw her colleagues at Bundaberg Hospital every day, it wasn’t until Megan shared her story during Organ Awareness Week last year that they became aware of the hurdles she has overcome .
“We didn’t know much about Megan’s history, apart from the fact that she was an awesome nurse, until she shared her story to encourage organ donation,” her colleague Samantha Matthews said.
“I have a lot of respect for her, she is very brave, and considering the fact that she herself was immunosuppressed and compromised, she continued to work as a frontliner through all the COVID preparation.”
Friends and family rally to support Megan
Sam said while it wasn’t often that nurses felt helpless, she and her fellow colleagues wanted to rally around the family and support however they could.
“When we saw the Go Fund Me page and the target, we thought that it was achievable and we commenced fundraising efforts,” she said.
“This has included baking, lamington drives, sausage sizzle events, contacting the radio station for the Helping Hands program and will finish with the music bingo event on Sunday.”
Spending her International Nurses Day coordinating the barbeque fundraiser at the hospital, Sam said she was sure there would be no better way to spend the day.
“There is a lot that makes us proud to be nurses, but I couldn’t think of anything better than to help one of our own on this day, so it is perfect timing,” she said.
The support from the local community has been overwhelming for Megan’s family.
Her sister Kylie said while she thought the fundraising efforts would reach the target from their family donations, the support from the general public has been overwhelming.
“The amounts that people have been donating and the amount that people we don’t even know and never spoken to have donated to us is just so overwhelming and we are so thankful for it basically because it has helped mum and dad be able to stay at the Gold Coast with Megan,” she said.
The next fundraiser for Megan will be a music bingo event held on Sunday, 16 May at The Club Hotel from 2pm.
Tickets to the event cost $10 per person and you can find more details here.