Co-founder of Nebraska Medicine’s liver transplant program steps down

Nebraska Medicine’s Liver Failure and Transplant Program bids farewell to one of its co-founders after nearly 40 years of dedication. Laurel Salonen, R.N., played a crucial role in establishing the program in 1985 alongside doctors Bud Shaw and Pat Wood, when it was only the fifth of its kind in the entire country. Salonen leaves behind a legacy of exceptional service, having witnessed remarkable growth as the program expanded to become the second largest in the nation within a short span of time. Not only did she contribute to building strong relationships with patients and families, but Salonen also mentored nurses throughout her career, emphasizing the importance of patient care.

Shaw acknowledges Salonen’s indispensable role, recognizing that the program may not have been possible without her expertise in the social, psychological, and organizational aspects of nursing. Her contributions extended beyond direct patient care, as she created the first-ever transplant coordinator role, a model now utilized by healthcare systems across the country. Salonen embraced a guiding principle of always prioritizing what is best for the patient, ensuring the program’s success in delivering exceptional care.

As Salonen steps into retirement, she plans to spend her initial months contemplating her next chapter. She and her husband are considering a potential move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, aiming to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Salonen’s departure marks the end of an era for Nebraska Medicine’s Liver Failure and Transplant Program, but her contributions and legacy will undoubtedly continue to impact the field of healthcare.

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