Donor Alliance Named Recipient of the First Katie Coolican-Nicholas Miller Donor Care Award for Excellence in Donor Family Support


Honor from MTF Biologics and AOPO recognizes organ procurement organization serving Colorado and Wyoming for its exemplary support of donor families

Edison, N.J. (March 21, 2019)MTF Biologics and the Assoication of Organ Procurement Organizations recently awarded the first Katie Coolican-Nicholas Miller Donor Care Award for Excellence in Donor Family Support to Donor Alliance, the federally-designated, non-profit organ procurement organization serving Colorado and Wyoming. Donor Alliance was chosen as the inaugural recipient of this honor for its commitment to providing excellent support to donor families during and after the donation process, and its donor family materials that offer a caring message and helpful information to families.

“The Katie Coolican-Nicholas Miller Donor Care Award celebrates those who have provided excellent donor family support through advocacy and education,” said Elling Eidbo, CEO of AOPO. “We are honored to present the first award to such a compassionate and dedicated organization.”

The Katie Coolican-Nicholas Miller Donor Care Award for Excellence in Donor Family Support is named in honor of two children whose lives were cut short, but who made a difference in others’ lives through donation. Katie Coolican’s eyes and kidneys were donated after she suffered a fatal aneurysm at the age of six. For more than 35 years, Katie’s family have been fierce advocates for donor family support. Katie’s mother, Maggie Coolican was founder of the National Kidney Foundation’s (NKF) Donor Family Council and creator of NKF’s donor family quilts. She was the driving force behind the Donor Family Bill of Rights which was adopted throughout the donation community. She worked as a Donor Family Services Coordinator at LifeChoice Donor Services and as Coordinator of Donor Family Services at MTF Biologics.

Nicholas Miller, a heart transplant recipient, died just short of his second birthday and became an identified eye donor. Nicholas’ mother Jayne Miller had a decades-long career in donation and transplantation including Vice President of Donor Services at MTF Biologics. She was instrumental in the development of MTF Biologics’ donor family-centered philosophy, and the inception of MTF’s Nicholas Miller Award and NKF Donor Care Award. She and her husband Tom have been long-time proponents of ensuring all donor family members receive the highest level of care and respect possible.

Donor Alliance provides extensive communications and support tools to donor families. In the last year, the organization has completely transformed its support materials to provide a consistent message to the donor family, including “thank you” cards, donor family packets, “navigating grief” support books, email follow-ups and one-year anniversary cards.

Additionally, an in-depth study conducted by The Research Planning Group to learn more about donor family perceptions and levels of satisfaction with the donation process showed that Donor Alliance was performing above the threshold for excellence and national benchmarks. High overall satisfaction was reported by 90 percent of donor families, and 74 percent indicated that it was because of the efforts, care and compassion of the Donor Alliance staff.

“Organizations like Donor Alliance are on the front lines of communicating with families about organ and tissue donation, and their ability to support a family with compassion and understanding through a difficult time is critical,” said Martha Anderson, Executive Vice President, Donor Services at MTF Biologics. “Donor Alliance’s efforts to honor donors, enhance communication about organ and tissue donation, and provide families with ongoing support in the face of devastating loss are a model for our field. We can’t think of a better organization to honor the legacies of Katie and Nicholas and their families.”

“We are so pleased to receive the first Katie Coolican-Nicholas Miller Donor Care Award,” said Sue Dunn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Donor Alliance. “The selfless decision to donate a loved one’s tissues and organs is extremely powerful. We’re proud of the support that we provide to our donor families during their most difficult times, and we are dedicated to continuing to find new ways to honor donated gifts and those who give them.”

A single donor can save the lives of up to eight people through organ donation and heal the lives of more than 75 others through tissue donation. To register to become an organ and tissue donor, please visit registerme.org.