LifeSaver Award Series: Jennifer Carney, RN, Overlake Medical Center & Clinics (Bellevue, Wash.)

Jennifer Carney (third from left) and her colleagues at Overlake gathered recently to celebrate Jennifer’s LifeSaver Award win.

Each month, LifeCenter Northwest selects a LifeSaver Award winner. This award honors and recognizes those who demonstrate a commitment to improving donation outcomes and culture through their actions, time, and energy.

We are pleased to present the LifeSaver Award to Jennifer Carney, RN, of Overlake Medical Center & Clinics in Bellevue, Wash! Jennifer was nominated by LifeCenter Northwest staff in recognition of her thoughtful actions and unmatched compassion for a donor and their family.

“Jennifer had such a positive energy and a great sense of humor,” recalls Morgan Rettig, organ recovery coordinator for LifeCenter Northwest. “This helped the other healthcare providers, the family and LifeCenter Northwest get through this very sad case. She was very knowledgeable in organ donation and her passion for honoring the patient and their family was truly inspiring.”

Jennifer was the bedside and charge nurse for a young donor, and while caring for them throughout the testing and organ donation process, she also supported the donor’s family during this difficult time. The family mentioned that the patient loved “cutie” oranges, especially their scent, and used to hold them in their hand. Jennifer honored the donor by keeping small oranges in their hand throughout their hospitalization, regardless of test or bed turn.

When the donor’s family was told that a recipient was found for the patient’s heart, Jennifer offered the donor’s mother her stethoscope so she could hear her child’s heartbeat one last time. She also helped the mother lie in bed beside her child, carefully orchestrating each move while paying close attention to IVs and wires. This kind act provided precious final moments between a mother and her child.

“I always stand in awe of the families of donors,” says Jennifer. “Their worst day is becoming someone’s best day, someone’s answered prayer. Yet, while dealing with their own worst nightmare—their grief—they are still able to think of others and save lives.”

Thanks to Jennifer and the support she gave, the family told LifeCenter Northwest that organ donation was one of their best decisions ever made. We are proud to honor Jennifer with the LifeSaver Award for going above and beyond to honor a donor and help their family find light and meaning in the gift of life.