LifeSaver Award Series: Crystal McCown, RN and W. Eric Chun, MD, Kootenai Health (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho)

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 this month’s LifeSaver Award to Crystal McCown, RN and W. Eric Chun, MD—both of whom work at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho—and both of whom played key roles in saving lives during a recent organ donation case.

During this case, a patient who’d been in a catastrophic motor vehicle accident arrived in the ED at Kootenai. This patient was extremely unstable and receiving continuous blood transfusions. Dr. Chun, an ED physician, sprang into action and spent about four hours intensively resuscitating this patient.

Despite the profound challenges of keeping this patient alive, Crystal (a RN in the Kootenai ED) insisted that her team continue to support this patient until she could refer them to LifeCenter Northwest. Recognizing the clinical triggers for organ donation, Crystal quickly followed through with this referral.

Not long after Crystal’s referral, Dr. Chun proactively called LifeCenter as well. He let us know that, unfortunately, this patient’s injuries were non-survivable and that the patient family was on their way to the hospital.

Luckily, a LifeCenter Organ Recovery Coordinator was only a few minutes away from Kootenai and was immediately able to speak to the family about donation once they arrived. The patient’s family members were understandably grief-stricken but fully supportive of their loved one’s decision to be a donor.

Ultimately, this donor provided the gift of life to five others through the recovery of their heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas.

Both Crystal and Dr. Chun went above and beyond that day to support donation. Crystal insisted on supporting the patient and made the critical referral call that allowed us to evaluate for donation suitability and talk with the family about donation. In addition, had Dr. Chun not continued to aggressively support this patient and proactively communicate with LifeCenter, the possibility for live-saving donation would have been lost.

We are proud to honor Crystal and Dr. Chun with this month’s LifeSaver Award for being excellent hospital partners, honoring donation decisions and helping donor families find meaning in the gift of life.