Organ donation and transplantation is an extraordinary process that brings hope and healing to families all over. To continue making lasting impacts in people’s lives, hospitals and organ procurement organizations, like LifeCenter Northwest, work in close collaboration to improve organ recovery and transplantation, and make donation possible.

This past December, our outstanding team at LifeCenter and a small hospital in Northeast Montana turned a challenging situation into a successful outcome for one donor, his family, and the many recipients who benefited from his donation.

Daniel Smith suffered a significant brain bleed causing pressure on one side of his brain. Daniel was a potential candidate for organ donation as he had been on ventilated support at the time of his death – a requirement for organ donation to be considered.  After a discussion with the LifeCenter Donor Family Advocate about her consideration in donating his organs and tissue, Daniel’s mother, Gemma, gave an “immediate, automatic, no questions asked” yes.

Gemma was delighted that in this difficult time her youngest boy would have the opportunity to give someone else a second chance at life.

Gemma with Governor Steve Bullock and son Craig Smith

However, residing in the small, rural town of Wolf Point, Montana, some logistical challenges were presented. Not only was Daniel the first donor Trinity Hospital of Northeast Montana Health Services had facilitated, but it is also one of the smallest hospitals LifeCenter has ever worked with for organ donation. The remote location, combined with the uniqueness of the situation at the hospital required great collaboration between Trinity and LifeCenter Northwest to make a positive outcome for Daniel’s family. Both teams showed tenacity and resilience when facing the challenges. This hard work and dedication resulted in the recovery of both Daniel’s kidneys for transplant, and two people who received a second chance at life.

For Gemma, LCNW’s effort to make this outcome happen brought great comfort and joy to her and her family.  She was thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the donation process and for the memory making activities facilitated to honor Daniel. “I was elated. It was an unbelievable, amazing, uplifting experience of the entire process,” said Gemma. “He was able to help save lives when people were at a time of greatest need, and now I can see my Danny’s life live on.”

We are beyond grateful for our partnership with Trinity Hospital and for everyone who was involved in the recovery process of Daniel’s organs. He is truly a hero, and his legacy will continue on in the lives of those who live because of his gifts.

This incredible accomplishment is a testament to the innovative thinking and teamwork that is providing more opportunities for transplantation. At LifeCenter, our mission is to save lives through organ and tissue donation and this focus holds true in urban trauma centers and small rural hospitals alike.