AOPO Announces 2020 Award Winners


AOPO Announces 2020 Award Winners

AOPO/Sallop Excellence in Leadership Award is given to an OPO employee who demonstrates excellence in leadership through outstanding management achievements or innovative practices in the organ procurement field. This year’s recipient is Kevin Cmunt, President and CEO of Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network. Since Kevin joined Gift of Hope in 2013, they have seen a significate increase in organ donors resulting in more organs transplanted and lives saved. Kevin created the Illinois Transplant Fund after witnessing the difficulties an immigrant community faced in accessing an organ transplant because of their financial status and inability to qualify for government insurance programs. The Illinois Transplant Fund has made more than 125 organ transplants possible and has pre-approved more than 80 individuals now on the transplant list.

AOPO/CryoLife Achievement Award is given to an individual who demonstrates significant professional and personal contributions to AOPO. This year’s recipient is Sue Dunn, President and CEO of Donor Alliance. Sue has been a pillar in the OPO community for over three decades, most recently leading the efforts in Colorado and Wyoming to ensure lifesaving and healing transplants are available to patients in need. Sue’s efforts to raise local awareness of donation has led to markedly increased donor registration and some of the highest donor authorization rates in the country – all ultimately translating to more lives saved and healed. Her tireless dedication to the OPO community and focus on continual improvement are perfect examples of leadership.

AOPO/MTF Biologics Crystal Heart Award honors one print or web-based media representative and/or one broadcast media representative for their outstanding efforts to accurately depict the science and reality of organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation to the public. This year’s recipient is Holly V. Hays from the Indianapolis Star for her piece “Carmel boy thanks family of Dad’s kidney donor: “Your son saved a very good man’s life.” From headline to closing quote, Holly’s piece humanizes, without sacrificing the science behind organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation. She also pulled back the curtain on the importance of the aftercare support program offered by Indiana Donor Network and other organ procurement organizations across the country.

AOPO/NDRI Empowering Research & Discovery Award is given to an OPO committed to advancing research. This year’s recipient is Donor Network West. Donor Network West is dedicated to working in close partnerships with researchers in academic medical centers, hospitals, universities, and biotechnology centers to advance the field of research. They collaborate with researchers who investigate metadata, analyze human samples, conducts clinical trials at academic centers, work in industry laboratories to improve the outcomes of transplanted organs, and improve medicine for the public. In 2019, Donor Network West had over 500 research-authorized donors providing hundreds of organs and thousands of tissue samples to expand medical science through research. Providing donors and their families with the opportunity to increase knowledge and develop advanced medical therapies for pain management, neurological disorders, autoimmune reactions and degenerative muscle diseases leaves the long- lasting legacy of hope that could not be accomplished in any other way. In addition to other organs, Donor Network West procures the brain for research. Recently, brain samples they provided were used in a study entitled “Neuroligin-4 Regulates Excitatory Synaptic Transmission in Human Neurons” published in “Neuron” by a number of authors at Stanford including Tom Sudhof a 2013 Nobel Laureate.

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The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) leads the nation’s organ donation process through innovation, advocacy and education. AOPO advances organ donation and transplantation by driving continual improvement of the donation process, collaborating with stakeholders and sharing best practices with their organ procurement organization members.

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