Woman thanks firefighters who rushed her to organ transplant | ICIN

A Brown County woman who got to a life-saving transplant with just seconds to spare got a chance to thank the firefighters who helped her get to the hospital.

BARGERSVILLE, Ind. — We have an update on that intense ambulance trip that got an organ transplant patient, who was up against the clock, to the hospital for life-saving surgery.

Last week, 13News shared how Bargersville firefighters worked to make it happen.

Now, after a successful transplant and a return back home, the patient and those paramedics are reconnecting.

Tuesday, as the garage door rose at Bargersville Fire Station 201, Paramedic Amanda Taylor peered out at the van in the driveway with a big smile.

“Oh here they are,” she exclaimed. “They’re so excited! Hello!”

In the same spot, where the O’Daniels family once pulled in, desperate for help, they reunited with the team who raced against time to help save Sara O’Daniels’ life.

“Isn’t this exciting?” Taylor asked, walking up to Sara.

“I know, right?” she responded “Hi!” 

“How are you doing,” Taylor asked, giving her a hug.

Of course, this time the drive to Fire Station 201 was a lot more relaxing for Sara, her husband Pat and their three young children.

“A lot different, less stressful for sure,” Sara said.

“But hey, if we ever need a ride again, we know where to go,” Pat O’Daniels said. 

“That’s right,” agreed EMT Anthony Ankney, with a laugh.

RELATED: Bargersville firefighters help woman receiving double organ transplant on race to the hospital

Two weeks ago, a phone call in the middle of severe storms started a crucial countdown for the O’Daniels.

Sara, in need of a double organ transplant, learned a kidney and liver were ready. She’d been waiting for this night for more than six months.

But doctors said she had to get from the family’s home in Brown County to University Hospital in Indianapolis in an hour.

A regular drive just doesn’t make it.

So they called 911, in hopes of getting an emergency escort.

Problem was — most crews were working the weather with other runs. 

It took a key dispatcher in Brown County, transferring to another in Johnson County, to connect with help at the Bargersville Fire Department.

“They just got the call. They’ve got an hour to get to Indianapolis and they would be at the county line before I could get anybody to them,” explained the dispatcher in Brown County. “Can I transfer to you?”

Eventually, the Johnson County dispatcher told the family on 911, “I have a solution for you if you’re still on 135. We have an ambulance waiting there for you ready for you. You just pull in and they will get you going, OK?”

While reconnecting at the firehouse, Ankney, Taylor and the O’Daniels relived those critical moments.

“This was a first. This was an interesting one,” Ankney said. “We don’t usually have deadlines like this, but we did this time.”

“I was saying, ‘I need to be there. I’ve got like 30 minutes to get to the hospital,'” Sara recalled about her arrival that night.

Sara had a countdown set on her cellphone.

Ankney was at the wheel, Taylor was in the back of the ambulance with Sara, keeping her calm.

“I have a hundred things going on,” Ankney explained. “You’re looking for other drivers, driving yourself. You’re paying attention to your partner in the back, in case they need help. But the drive wasn’t bad. Not much traffic.”

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“Her vitals were great. She was not in distress, so we just kind of girl talked on the way up there,” Taylor said. “We talked about our kids. She said, ‘Oh no! I’m going to miss Easter!’ and I told her you’ll now have a lot more Easters.”

It was a true team effort that worked, with seconds to spare.

“You know, time’s ticking away on the phone and literally we walked out of the elevator doors on the fourth floor of the transplant unit and she’s like, ‘Look! We’re here!'” Sara said. “(The phone is) all zeroes and I’m like, ‘We made it!'”

“No sooner than my alarm went off did upstairs transplant call me and they’re like, ‘Where are you at?’ And I said, ‘I’m in the elevators, I’m coming up,'” Sara said.

Sara and her family are now thankful for the organ donor, who gave the gift of life so that she can be healthy.

“The words that I’m trying to put into a letter to form for them, I just can’t … I can’t get the words out to say thank you enough,” she said.

RELATED: Former Lafayette student donates kidney to teacher, creates lasting bond

She’s also grateful for the first responders, who helped make sure it happened.

They’re more than firefighters. They’re now friends.

“We are,” Taylor said. “We’re friends! I mean, it started out as a patient contact and it has turned into a friendship. It makes me tear up a little bit, um, just because you know, I mean it’s not something we get to do very often.”

“We don’t always get to see the ending or a happy ending,” Ankney added. “This was a happy ending.”

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