Palace of Care – A Stitch in Time

Photo by Thomas Griggs on Unsplash

Our patient was dying and we had prepared her family for her imminent death. Their Imam had visited and they had already engaged the services of an Islamic funeral director. Their custom was for the body to be buried within 12 hours or before sunset. The timing was important and we wanted to avoid any hold-ups if possible. s

The eldest son had a special request. His mother had a stoma in place, this allowed solid bodily wastes to be collected in a small plastic bag. He asked if our staff would be able to sew up the stoma after death. He said their tradition was for the body not to have any foreign objects present. The funeral director had already told them that they could not help with this post-mortem procedure. The concern was there would be soiling after the stoma bag was removed. They wanted everything kept as clean as possible thus sewing up the stoma would prevent it from leaking.

I asked my medical team but no one available was keen to help. I would’ve been happy to come back to suture up the stoma myself but I was due to leave for an overseas trip the next morning. I asked around our other staff and three nurses with suturing experience put their hands up.

Our patient died the next day and her stoma was neatly sewn up by one of the nurses before the funeral director came to collect the body. The family were grateful and were able to bury within their customary timeframe. I was proud that our team had been able to help the family in their time of need.

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