Nurse on organ retrieval: ‘we save lives and that’s the most beautiful part’

Elizabeth Stafidas has developed four key values that help guide her as a nurse in the operating suite at Westmead Hospital.

‘Beautiful’ is how a Westmead Hospital nurse manager has described the process of saving lives through organ donation.

Operating suite nurse manager Elizabeth Stafidas, a Westmead Hospital nurse for more than 30 years, has been directly involved in the surgical process of retrieving organs after a patient has passed away.

“My first organ case was for an 18-year-old boy,” Elizabeth said.

“He was on a motorbike and hit a pole. He tragically died.

“The patient donated his heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas.

“It was confronting for me as I was young at the time, but he saved so many people because of the organs he donated.”  

Elizabeth said there are a lot of sad and challenging patient cases to manage in the operating suites but a personal philosophy has kept her going.

“I have four agreements with myself. Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions and always do your best,” Elizabeth said.

“This keeps me going.  We have some very unwell patients who don’t survive because of the intense trauma they have received – but through harvesting and transplanting organs, we save lives – and that’s the most beautiful part.”

DonateLife Week is Sunday 28 July to Sunday 4 August. Australians are encouraged to register to be an organ and tissue donor, and to have a chat about it with their family and friends.

Your donation decision is no longer recorded on your NSW driver’s licence. It’s important to check your registration even if you ticked a box on your licence years ago.

For more information visit

If you’d like to register to become a donor, click here: