Hospital hallways usually are quiet, still places in the middle of the night.

But about 2:30 a.m. Friday, more than 100 people — family members, friends, firefighters from four area communities and medical staff — lined a hallway at Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy to pay tribute to Ralston firefighter Brian Saathoff.

Saathoff, 39, who died suddenly of an unknown medical condition, had registered as an organ and tissue donor. Honor walks are typically conducted by hospital staff to recognize donors as they are taken to the operating room to save lives through donation.

Saathoff came from a line of firefighters. He began his career as a volunteer firefighter after high school and served with two other volunteer departments before joining the Ralston Volunteer Fire Department more than a decade ago. So paying tribute to him with an honor walk was particularly fitting, said Paula Wallace, family support coordinator at Live On Nebraska, the organ recovery organization serving Nebraska and Iowa’s Pottawattamie County.

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Ralston Fire Chief Kevin Eischeid said Saathoff was the type of person who brings others together.

“Brian was always about helping others and putting his family first,” Eischeid said in a statement. “With his passing and still being able to help others is huge.”

Saathoff’s donation was especially meaningful to another Ralston firefighter. Mike Bramhall received a double lung transplant in 2016.

“In my mind, it was just crazy that in the same small fire department, someone got a transplant and just a few years later another team member is donating,” Bramhall said in a statement.

A Donate Life flag was raised outside the hospital in Saathoff’s honor. His family received a teddy bear with a recording of his heartbeat.

To register as a donor in honor of Saathoff, visit

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Julie Anderson is a medical reporter for The World-Herald. She covers health care and health care trends and developments, including hospitals, research and treatments. Follow her on Twitter @JulieAnderson41. Phone: 402-444-1066.

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