New CEO Richard Hasz Salutes Region – the Most Generous in the Nation for 14 Consecutive Years – and Team of “Heroes” for Extraordinary Commitment
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 11, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Gift of Life Donor Program once again leads the nation among all 57 U.S. organ procurement organizations (OPO) in saving lives. For the 14th consecutive year, Gift of Life coordinated the most organs for transplant, achieving the highest number of organ donors ever recorded for a U.S.-based OPO.  Thanks to the nation’s most generous community, dedicated staff who work around the clock for each person on the organ waitlist, and hospital partners committed to saving every life possible, in 2021 Gift of Life led the nation in:

 
Most organ donors – coordinated life-saving gifts from 705 organ donors, the most ever in the U.S. Most organs transplanted – those donations resulted in 1,732 transplants, the most in the U.S. in 2021. Most kidneys transplanted – coordinated 1,007 kidney transplants – the most ever in U.S. history. With kidney disease on the rise, and often tied to common conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, this provides hope to all who are waiting. The need is especially prevalent in multicultural communities. In the Gift of Life region’s 14 transplant centers, 56 percent of the kidney recipients were people of color. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Gift of Life Donor Program is the federally designated OPO that serves the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware. Gift of Life’s annual donation rate, 62 organ donors-per-million-population, is among the highest in the world.

Richard Hasz, is the long-time leader of the clinical team behind Gift of Life’s record of excellence. He became President and CEO of Gift of Life Donor Program, Gift of Life Family House, and Transplant Foundation on January 4, after serving as Vice President of Clinical Services since 1999.

“I am humbled and inspired by Gift of Life’s community, which year after year is the most generous in the nation for donation. It takes a team of heroes — donors, donor families, Gift of Life staff and hospital partners — to save the lives of people on the organ waitlist. Without each one of them, organ donation would not be possible,” said Hasz. “As I embark on this new chapter as CEO, I know that our team will continue to lead in advocating for the thousands of patients awaiting a second chance at life, honoring all who give the gift of life and providing comfort to donor families. They are unsung heroes, working 24/7 to support families and enabling them to create life-saving legacies for their loved ones. It takes sleepless nights, clinical expertise, and a deep reservoir of compassion. Working together, we strive for a day when no one dies waiting for a transplant.”

In this video, a liver recipient and the mother of the donor who saved his life discuss how this extraordinary gift transformed both their lives, forging a deep friendship between two families of different faiths, races, and backgrounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBi-XXxs3c4

In 2021, Gift of Life also recovered life-enhancing tissue from 2,399 donors, including 1,348 musculoskeletal donors and 1,894 cornea donors. These donations can benefit more than 110,000 people, with bone donations for orthopedic and sports injuries, skin donations to heal burn patients and for reconstructive surgery, heart valve donations to repair life-threatening defects and corneas to provide the gift of sight.

Gift of Life’s Clinical Services division is now led by Christine Radolovic, MS, BSN, RN, a 20-year veteran of Gift of Life who was recently promoted to the role of Chief Clinical Officer from director of the organization’s more than 65 Transplant Coordinators. A former ICU nurse, Radolovic understands firsthand the critical partnership between Gift of Life and its network of 129 acute care hospitals and 14 transplant centers. “Our hospital partners work side-by-side with us to make each donation possible,” said Radolovic.  Each year, Gift of Life recognizes hospitals for their work. In this video, Temple Health staff and leadership reflect upon this life-saving partnership: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfw43vr4o0s 

Radolovic joined Gift of Life as a Transplant Coordinator, supporting donor families during the donation process. “Coordinators work 24/7 advocating for each person who is waiting for a life-saving donation and helping donor families during the most difficult moments of their lives,” she said.  In this news clip, a Gift of Life Transplant Coordinator talks about this challenging and rewarding work.  https://www.donors1.org/gift-of-life-transplant-coordinator-explains-organ-donation-process-for-both-families-and-recipients/ 

Donation and transplantation would not be possible without the generosity of heroic donors and donor families. “Gift of Life is privileged to serve the most generous community in the nation for organ donation,” said Jan L. Weinstock, Esq., Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel. Gift of Life supports donor families through their grief with ongoing counseling and programs, including its annual Life and Legacy Celebrations that pay tribute to donor heroes and their families. To view this year’s virtual ceremony, visit: https://www.donors1.org/families-of-donors/llc/llc4/

“Despite our region’s historic generosity, we must not forget that there remains a tremendous gap between the number of adults and children waiting for organs and the number of organs available,” added Weinstock. “We urgently need everyone to register as organ donors to send a message that as a society, we care for one another and believe in saving lives.”

There are more than 100,000 people in the U.S. and more than 5,000 in Gift of Life’s service area waiting for life-saving organ transplants. Across the country, 20 people die each day waiting. Choosing to register as an organ and tissue donor is one of the most selfless acts of love and humanity. It only takes 30 seconds to register to help save lives. To learn more or to register, go to donors1.org https://www.donors1.org/learn-about-organ-donation/sign-up-to-save-lives/ 

Leader in Innovation and Education

Gift of Life is recognized worldwide for its leadership and scholarship in organ and tissue donation. Howard M. Nathan, who recently retired as President and CEO after 43 years with Gift of Life, now serves as Executive Director of Transplant Foundation. The Foundation, the supporting affiliate of Gift of Life Donor Program, leads research and education to advance donation and transplantation across the world. It includes Gift of Life Institute and Transplant Pregnancy Registry International. In addition to those programs the Foundation provides grants to fund innovation, quality and safety through scientific research, social and behavioral interventions or alternate approaches to existing processes and protocols. In recent years, Transplant Foundation has funded over 18 biomedical research trials.

“It is my privilege to continue to advance our life-saving mission and share the best practices that have led to Gift of Life’s record-breaking increases in donation in my new role with the Transplant Foundation,” said Nathan. “I am so proud to congratulate my friend and colleague Rick Hasz as he takes the reigns as CEO. Rick is a national leader and the driving force behind Gift of Life’s outstanding clinical outcomes. I am confident that he will continue to provide a model of excellence, innovation, and success. There is no one better equipped to lead us into the future.”

An international training center for organ and tissue donation professionals, the Gift of Life Institute offers comprehensive, interdisciplinary resources to increase donation outcomes, including skills-based learning, continuing education, collaborative research, and consulting services. Since its inception in 2004, the Institute has facilitated more than 535 workshops with 57 OPOs and multiple tissue banks, training over 12,200 professionals from across the U.S. and 33 countries around the world. In 2021, the Institute conducted training for more than 1,200 participants.

January 2021 marked the 30th anniversary for the Transplant Pregnancy Registry International (TPRI). The only research study of its kind in the world, TPRI studies the effects of pregnancy on transplant recipients and the effects of immunosuppressive medications on fertility and pregnancy outcomes. At one time, many transplant recipients were warned not to attempt pregnancy. TPRI’s work has helped change the conversation. Since its founding in 1991, the TPRI team and its collaborators have tracked 2,957 parents and 5,115 pregnancies; celebrated over 230 grandchildren; presented information at 540 academic forums; and written over 280 publications including 79 peer-reviewed publications. Their work informs treatment guidelines, education to providers, and guidance to recipients worldwide. Learn more about TPRI’s work from study researchers and participants in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i50VOCtKQAc 

To support the work of the Transplant Foundation, each year Gift of Life holds the Donor Dash, which in 2022 will celebrate its 25th Anniversary on April 24 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Held during National Donate Life Month, the Dash celebrates the life-saving power of organ and tissue transplantation. Since its start, its life-saving message has reached millions through media and community participation, and it has raised nearly $10 million to support organ and tissue donation community outreach, research, and patient programs and services.

Every other summer, Transplant Foundation helps support transplant recipients, living donors and donor family participation at the Donate Life Transplant Games of America as part of Gift of Life’s Team Philly. A showcase for the success of organ donation and transplantation, 2022’s games will be held in San Diego, CA.

Transplant Foundation also supports Camp Jeremy, a summer day camp that brings together children who have undergone a life-saving transplant and their siblings, for a week of fun and friendship. In 2021, Gift of Life started a one-day, virtual winter version, with art projects, science experiments and more.

Celebrating 10 Years: A Home for Transplant Patients and Families

For families who travel to Philadelphia for transplants and related medical care, the financial and emotional stress of finding accommodations can be overwhelming. July 2021 marked the 10th year for Gift of Life Family House , a home away from home for transplant patients and their families. The Family House has provided 76,894 nights of food, lodging and supportive services since it opened, and, true to its mission, implemented numerous safety protocols so it could remain open throughout the pandemic. With community support, the Family House has welcomed 138,951 guests, served more than 277,902 meals, and provided more than $10.8 million in subsidized care since its inception. In 2021, the Family House staff and volunteers provided 6,172 lodging nights of care for 9,750 guests, 19,500 meals, and 788 rides to and from local hospitals. The Family House’s webinar series and virtual support groups for transplant patients and caregivers provides free, essential information on a wide range of topics, from understanding the waitlist process to recovery, medication, and mental health. In 2021, 2,400 participants from 48 states and 8 countries attended these programs. See highlights from the Family House’s 10th Anniversary Kickoff Event and learn how the Family House has helped thousands of transplant patients and families during the past decade: https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2021/07/14/gift-of-life-family-house-chimes-of-hope/ 

At the Family House and throughout the community, Gift of Life’s work would not be possible without hundreds of volunteers who provide food and services to guests, help educate the public, and support our life-saving mission. Learn more about becoming a Gift of Life ambassador here: https://www.donors1.org/get-involved/volunteer/

About Gift of Life Donor Program

Gift of Life Donor Program is the non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization, working with 129 acute care hospitals and 14 transplant centers to serve 11.3 million people in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware. Thanks to its compassionate community, for the past 14 years, Gift of Life has coordinated the most organ donors in the United States. Its annual donation rate, most recently 62 organ donors-per-million-population, ranks among the highest in the world. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 58,000 organs for transplant, and more than two million tissue transplants have resulted from the generosity of donors and their families. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can improve the lives of more than 100 others. For more information or to register, visit donors1.org.

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