Listen: Actor Claire Van der Boom chats to Laura Bennett about her role in ‘Pulse’.
An inspiring role as a transplant-recipient-turned-doctor has given actor Claire Van der Boom a passion to see more people sign up for organ donation.
In the ABC medical drama, PULSE, Claire plays lead character Frankie Bell, who is modelled from the true story of Mel Hill. Mel was a kidney transplant patient who, given a second chance at life, becomes a doctor.
Claire chatted with Hope 103.2 about meeting the inspirational woman behind the story.
“She had been a transplant patient herself,” Claire said. ”[I] really felt everything was moved through her in a very personal, deep way. She was very clear about how awesome her career was, and the fact that she’s still alive. I really took the lead from her spirit. She was quite inspiring.”
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For Claire the most rewarding part of her role has been highlighting the need for organ donation.
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“You can just walk into a hospital and give a kidney and save a life and that is happening more and more,” Claire said. “I think I was proud that our show shone a light on that and gently kind of said; hey this is something we want to talk about, because you can actually save lives.”
The Pressures of the Hospital World
The Western Australian-born actress known for her roles in Sisters of War, The Pacific and Hawaii Five-O, said the role has given her a greater appreciation of the challenges that nurses and doctors face on a daily basis—including her own mother, a nurse.
“I called her a lot saying, ‘thank you, I can’t believe you’ve been going through this’,” Claire said. “It’s a really high-stress job. I have so much respect for [nurses], they are angels.”
In preparation for the show, Claire and her cast members watched the BBC program Hospital showing the ethical and financial pressures faced in the medical system.
“People are going through an operation but there are just not enough beds so they get turned away,” Claire said. “And it’s hard to believe that that’s happening—where there are not enough beds and that is a dead-set reality.”
The Much-Needed Donor Conversation
Claire encourages people to have conversations with their family and friends about organ donation.
“There needs to be more dialogue in Australia about that,” she said. “You can tick your licence and say ‘yes I’m an organ donor’ but the family can say no, [because] they’re in trauma and grieving. So it’s about having the conversation with your family, your next of kin about what you really want.”