Gift of Life located in Philadelphia is the largest organ procurement organization (OPO) in USA with 447 organ donors and an organ donation rate of 43 per million population in 2014. Dr. Sumana Navin, Course Director, MOHAN Foundation and Dr. Navin Jayakumar, Faculty visited the Gift of Life Donor Program Headquarters on the invitation of Mr. Howard Nathan, President and CEO, Gift of Life Donor Program in November 2015. They were privileged to be a part of a one-day Donation Champion Learning Session on “Supporting Families and Sharing Best Practices.”
The next day, Mr. Nathan gave them a tour of the headquarters and an overview. In 1974, Gift of Life began as the Greater Delaware Valley Society of Transplant Surgeons with three employees coordinating just a handful of kidney transplants in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Today, Gift of Life stands as the nation’s most active and well-respected OPO, with approximately 30,000 organ transplants and hundreds of thousands of tissue transplants coordinated. In addition to its regional clinical work, it has built a national and international reputation for training transplant and donation professionals through the Gift of Life Institute. And, Gift of Life Family House provides vital support to ease the many challenges family members face while loved ones receive treatment – the region’s first such program to serve all area transplant centers.
Mr. Nathan said that Gift of Life pioneered mandatory routine referral policy, becoming the national model for how potential donors are referred to OPOs. And also, their best practices have been taught and shared as the gold standard of how to coordinate donations. Dr. Sumana Navin and Dr. Navin Jayakumar were able to observe the functioning of the 24/7 call centre for assistance and on-site response to evaluate and manage potential organ donors. They also saw the HLA & Serology Lab, OR Recovery Suites, Kidney Preservation Lab and other facilities, all of which have been built with great forethought. Interacting with various members of the staff of Gift of Life gave them a deeper insight into the committed work that was being done there. Mr. Scott Demczyszyn, Director made a presentation on Transplant Coordination, Mr. John Clark, Manager on Transplant Information Center (TIC), Ms. Gweneth O’Shaughnessy on Hospital Services and Ms. Judy Ferrarie, Clinical Educator on Clinical Staff Development. Ms. Theresa Daly, Director, briefed them about Gift of Life Institute.
The spirit of Gift of Life was best encompassed in what Mr. Nathan said, “I like people to say ‘No’ because I like a challenge!”