Country for PR: United States
Contributor: PR Newswire New York
Wednesday, January 06 2021 - 00:12
Gift of Life Donor Program Leads U.S. in Organ Donation for 13th Consecutive Year
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 5, 2021 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

-- Region Demonstrates Extraordinary Generosity and Clinical Leadership Despite 
Pandemic Challenges: Most Organ Donors Every Year Since 2008

For the 13th consecutive year, Gift of Life Donor Program leads the nation in 
the most organ donors among all 58 U.S. Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO). 
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of its community, Gift of Life has 
coordinated the most organ donors in the nation every year since 2008. 
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The federally designated OPO, headquartered in Philadelphia, coordinated 
life-saving gifts from 619 organ donors in 2020, resulting in 1,621 organs 
transplanted.  Gift of Life's annual donation rate, 55 organ 
donors-per-million-population, is among the highest in the world. 

"Gift of Life Donor Program steadfastly advanced its life-saving mission, even 
in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Gift of Life President and CEO 
Howard M. Nathan.  "This is a testament to the dedication and expertise of our 
staff, the commitment of our hospital partners and the inspiring generosity of 
our donors and donor families.  Our compassionate community is the most 
generous in the nation, choosing to save lives and support families despite 
their grief and the many challenges of this past year."  Zach, a 5-year-old who 
received a life-saving heart transplant during the pandemic, and his mother 
Sarah, express appreciation for his new heart: 

Gift of Life also recovered life-enhancing tissues from 2,295 donors, including 
1,385 musculoskeletal donors and 1,726 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. In this video, Alex Cummings talks about how cornea donation 
restored her vision and her independence:

Life-saving Mission Continues During Pandemic

In a year that brought major disruptions to people's daily lives and widespread 
uncertainty amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Gift of Life team rapidly 
adapted to new challenges by implementing COVID-19 testing for donors, adapting 
procedures and communications with hospitals and families, and securing 
personal protective equipment (PPE) for its frontline clinical team to ensure 
its life-saving mission continued. The OPO also found special ways to support 
its clinical partners and hospital colleagues, providing PPE, care packages and 
meals, and donating ventilators to treat coronavirus patients.

Gift of Life partners with 128 acute care hospitals and 15 transplant centers 
across its service area to save and heal lives through organ and tissue 

"Gift of Life's expert team addresses life-saving clinical situations every 
day, working side-by-side, 24/7 with critical care teams at the nation's 
foremost hospitals and transplant centers to provide families with the 
opportunity for donation," said Gift of Life Vice President of Clinical 
Services Richard D. Hasz.  "Our hospital partners have staunchly continued to 
champion donation, along with the tremendous pressures of fighting COVID-19.  
Many have shared with us that donation and transplantation has been a silver 
lining offering hope to others during a very challenging year."  Gift of Life 
recognizes hospitals annually for championing organ donation with its Gift of 
Life Award. Hear this year's award winner reflect upon caring for families and 
their partnership with Gift of Life:

More than 108,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ in the U.S. and 
every day, 20 people die waiting. In Gift of Life's service area, which 
encompasses the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware, 
there are currently more than 5,300 men, women and children awaiting a 
life-saving transplant.  

"Our generous community continued to demonstrate remarkable empathy and 
resilience in 2020," said Gift of Life Vice President of Administration & 
General Counsel Jan L. Weinstock, Esq.  "More than ever, we are so grateful to 
donor families.  Many times, they couldn't even be with their loved one in the 
ICU because of the pandemic, but in the midst of their grief, cared enough 
about helping others to say 'yes' to donation."

Donation and transplantation would not be possible without the generosity of 
heroic donors and donor families.  Gift of Life pays tribute to donor heroes 
each year during its poignant and moving Life and Legacy Celebrations for donor 
families. View this year's first-ever virtual ceremony:

The need for life-saving organs is urgent. With the temporary closure of 
driver's license centers in some areas in 2020 due to COVID-19, organ donor 
registration slowed, making the need to register more important than ever. 
Everyone can register quickly at

Leader in Community Support

Gift of Life's 619 generous organ donors enabled 1,621 life-saving transplants. 
Many had to travel far from home during the pandemic for care at our region's 
leading transplant centers. Gift of Life Family House ( 
) in Philadelphia remained open and made numerous changes to safely continue 
providing affordable lodging, meals and supportive services for transplant 
patients and their families. In addition, a robust webinar series was 
introduced for transplant patients and caregivers, covering a variety of 
topics, including managing during COVID-19, post-transplant mental health, 
caregiver wellness, among others. These free virtual support webinars were 
attended by more than 2,000 participants and provided the transplant community 
with important health and wellness information. In 2020, Family House staff and 
volunteers provided 4,396 lodging nights of care for 7,519 guests, 15,038 
meals, and 426 rides to and from local hospitals. With community support, the 
Family House has provided 70,722 lodging nights for 129,201 guests, served more 
than 258,401 meals, and provided more than $9.93 million in subsidized care to 
families since opening in 2011.  Family House will celebrate its 10th 
Anniversary in July 2021. Learn about how Family House provided a safe and 
comfortable home away from home for lung transplant recipient Maggi and her 
partner George during the pandemic:

Gift of Life's work would not be possible without hundreds of volunteers 
throughout our region. Despite the pandemic, these ambassadors helped virtually 
educate the public, attended trainings, donated food and materials to the 
Family House, and participated in dozens of programs with schools, houses of 
worship, hospitals and other community organizations to support our life-saving 

Leader in Innovation and Education

Gift of Life is recognized internationally for its leadership and scholarship 
in the field of organ and tissue donation.  The OPO works jointly with 
investigators from a host of government, academic medical and nonprofit 
institutions to support the advancement of donation and medical transplantation.

The year 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of Gift of Life 's first organ 
donation after circulatory death (DCD), which took place thanks to a young hero 
and his compassionate family. Michael McVey's legacy went on to transform 
donation across the U.S. through his mother Susan McVey Dillon's passionate 
advocacy and Gift of Life's teaching and leadership. Since then, Gift of Life 
has coordinated a total of 1,682 DCD donations, resulting in 3,009 organs 
transplanted. Nationally, DCD donations have been responsible for saving more 
than 44,000 lives. Now, more than two decades later, DCD heart donation has 
become a reality thanks to an innovative preservation technology. Gift of Life 
coordinated the region's first DCD heart recovery in May, followed by three 
additional successful DCD heart donations. DCD hearts offer hope to those 
desperately in need of a life-saving transplant and are expected to expand the 
donor pool by as much as 30 percent. Learn about Michael McVey's history making 
legacy and his family's important partnership with Gift of Life which 
transformed donation in the U.S.:

In January, Penn Medicine announced the birth of Benjamin Gobrecht. Baby 
Benjamin was the second baby in the U.S. to be born following the 
transplantation of a uterus from a deceased donor. Gift of Life Donor Program 
partnered with Penn Medicine, coordinating the donation for the Uterus 
Transplantation for Uterine Factor Infertility (UNTIL) Trial that resulted in 
this clinical milestone. This donation and transplant innovation offers hope to 
women born with Uterine Factor Infertility (UFI), a previously irreversible 
form of female infertility that affects as many as five percent of 
reproductive-aged women worldwide. Learn more about the UNTIL trial and the 
Gobrecht's transplant journey:

The Gift of Life Institute ( 
) is an international training center for organ and tissue donation 
professionals, offering 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 450 workshops with 58 OPOs and multiple 
tissue banks, training over 11,000 professionals from across the U.S. and 33 
countries around the world. In 2020, the Institute successfully pivoted to an 
all virtual platform, conducting training for more than 1,100 participants. 

The Institute's Transplant Pregnancy Registry International (TPR) ( 
) studies post-transplant parenthood and the effects of medications on 
fertility and pregnancy. Since 1991, TPR has tracked more than 5,000 
post-transplant pregnancy outcomes, sharing information with countless 
transplant recipients and their healthcare teams making family planning 
decisions. TPR is the only Registry of its kind in the world. Its team has 
presented their findings in more than 76 peer-reviewed publications and 
presented at 530 academic forums worldwide. 

Gift of Life Donor Program

Gift of Life Donor Program ( 
) is the non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization, 
working with 128 acute care hospitals and 15 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 13 years, Gift of 
Life has coordinated the most organ donors in the United States. Its annual 
donation rate, 55 organ donors-per-million-population, ranks among the highest 
in the world. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 52,500 
life-saving organs for transplant, and approximately 1.75 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 ( 

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SOURCE Gift of Life Donor Program

CONTACT: Karen Muldoon Geus,, 610-864-1840, Kimberly 
Kerr,, 215-219-6268