LifeSaver Series: Leah Priestaf and Sarah Hewitt, Harborview Medical Center

At LifeCenter Northwest (LCNW), collaborating with local hospitals, medical centers and medical professionals is an essential part of fulfilling our mission of working together to save lives through organ and tissue donation. These partnerships literally make donation possible. We established the LifeCenter Northwest LifeSaver Award, presented monthly, to honor those who demonstrate a commitment to improving donation outcomes and/or culture through their actions, time and energy. We are proud to announce our September LifeSaver Award winners, RN Leah Priestaf and RN Sarah Hewitt.

Organ donation is a rare and remarkable process and requires collaboration by many different people and services. The hospital’s intensive care unit plays a vital role in making donation happen. During a recent organ donation case on Harborview Medical Center’s Medical Cardiac ICU (MCICU), Leah and Sarah, were no exception. Their hard work and dedication were discernible, and the LCNW staff involved all agree that they went above and beyond in their efforts to ensure donation could move forward.

From the beginning of this challenging and tragic case, Leah and Sarah remained calm and in control. They offered their assistance to the LCNW staff while continuing to care for and support the family. They asked a lot of questions to ensure there was clarity regarding next steps and offered extremely valuable insight into how this family was coping with their heartbreaking loss. Knowing the extensive time and coordination necessary for donation to be possible, Leah and Sarah both stepped-up and coordinated with the hospital team to honor the patient’s wishes to become an organ donor and not compromise the opportunity for donation.

Gail Joblin, Senior Organ Recovery Coordinator and RN at LCNW, said, “Sarah and Leah are extremely helpful, pleasant, and genuinely invested and involved in the patient’s care. They are both knowledgeable in the process and truly supportive of donation. Although there were multiple challenges along the way, they both focused on honoring the patient’s wishes to donate by moving the case forward, with strong empathy towards the family’s needs. Sarah was an invaluable resource in helping plan care-focused interactions with the family, and Leah took charge in expediting ICU procedures so that we could move the donation process along as quickly as possible to meet family needs. Working with them is a true honor, and I look forward to doing more so in the future.”

We’d like to thank all members of the Harborview Medical Center team who helped on this case. The hard work of the entire hospital team, coupled with Leah and Sarah’s exemplary and unwavering dedication to serving this family and making the donation possible, saved the lives of four people in desperate need of an organ transplant.