Sister of organ donor becomes transplant nurse

Brother's organ donation saved four lives

When 19-year-old Cory Adams lost his life in an auto accident on May 6, 2011, the donation of his organs saved the lives of four people.

It also changed the course of his sister’s life.

Chelsea Adams attended the UW School of Nursing. After graduating, she became a transplant nurse at UW Hospital.

“After meeting my brother’s recipients, I knew this would kind of open up my eyes to something better. I get to see the positive impact of transplant,” Adams said.

Cory Adams sustained a traumatic brain injury in the accident. While doctors were not able to save his life, he could save the lives of others.

“The doctor came out and flat out said, ‘Everything from his head down is untouched. It is just his head that is having issues. Have you considered organ donation?” Adams said.

Prior to her brother’s accident, Chelsea had planned to become a teacher. When she witnessed the kindness of a nurse in the ICU, it redirected her life.

The nurse, Alazda Kaun made certain Cory was comfortable and cared for. She also showed compassion for his family.

“Right before my brother left, she joined us in prayer and said one last thing about Cory. We each went around the room and said one thing that we remembered about him,” Adams said.

“I wanted to make sure they had peace during those times. It is really a difficult time being with someone that is dying,” Kaun said.

The empathy Kaun showed to her brother and her family made Chelsea realize the importance a nurse can play in people’s lives.

“That was when I knew that I couldn’t be a teacher anymore. I needed to help people, like the nurse helped me and my family,” Adams said.

Six years have passed since Cory’s death. In that time, Adams graduated from the UW-Madison School of Nursing and became a transplant nurse at UW Hospital.

Her connection to Alazda Kaun came full circle when she realized the two were working in the same hospital.
“From the bottom of my heart, and my family, I’m so thankful for you,” were the words Adams spoke when the two met.

“Things that I did back then have inspired her to bring that to her nursing career and be able to have that same impact on her patients,” Kaun said.

For more information about becoming an organ donor, please follow this link: