Celebrating Donate Life Month Brings Comfort to Mental Health Center of Denver Employee

It’s a hopeful thing to plant a tree — and an expression of gratitude — especially during National Donate Life Month. For Diane Eckert, a registered nurse at the Colorado Crisis Services 24/7 walk-in center operated by the Mental Health Center of Denver, one way to honor and memorialize the brother she lost two years ago was to plant a tree in April side by side with the man who received her brother’s donated liver.

It was also a way to thank the Donor Alliance for its good works and the support it gave her family, Eckert says. Her brother, Cody Crosby, was a soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division, who died back home as a passenger in a car accident on May 25, 2013. In the midst of his family’s devastating loss, there was the gift of life. Crosby’s liver and kidneys went to three recipients.

Donor recipients included Wes Cook, whose meeting with the family made him want to be a better person, he told 9News at the tree-planting ceremony at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood in early April. The liver transplant Cook received saved his life as he battled cancer. The letter of gratitude he wrote to Crosby’s survivors deeply touched the family.

“I thought, ‘This is amazing,’” Eckert says.

Crosby’s kidneys saved the lives of a social worker active in her church and spared the life of a father of five.

“It brought my family so much comfort that these families didn’t have to go through that loss,” Eckert says. “That’s three funerals they didn’t have to go to.”

Ever since her brother’s death, she’s been involved with Donor Alliance, a nonprofit that facilitates the recovery and donation of organs and tissues in Colorado and Wyoming.

“It’s definitely become my therapy,” Eckert says.

She loves her nursing job at the walk-in center, where she serves people, including many who are homeless, with urgent mental health needs.

“I’m definitely enjoying the population we serve,” Eckert says. “It’s fun to be part of a new initiative and seeing where we can take mental health care in the future.”

The mother of 15-year-old son Jackson, Eckert also enjoys hiking, fishing and camping with him and the family dog, Cooper. The 39-year-old has lived in Colorado for 25 years, and it’s home.

In her own family, organ donation was something they all agreed on. “It’s a personal decision, but I hope people will consider being an organ, eye and tissue donor,” Eckert says. “Get the little red heart on your driver’s license. It can give life.”

For more information, visit www.donoralliance.org.