(Philadelphia, PA) June 5, 2017 – Juniata College bestowed one of its most important honors to Gift of Life Donor Program President and Chief Executive Officer Howard M. Nathan, an international leader in the field of organ and tissue donation. Mr. Nathan was presented with Juniata College’s Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of his leadership and nearly 40 years of life-saving work as a champion for organ donation. The award was presented during Juniata College’s Alumni Weekend 2017 in June.
“This award recognizes Howard Nathan’s lifetime achievements as a leading expert and tireless advocate for organ and tissue donation,” said Juniata College President James A. Troha, Ph.D. “With this award he joins a distinguished and inspirational group of Juniata alumni who are working to change the world for better every day.”
The citation was presented to Mr. Nathan by fellow Juniata alumnus Rohinton J. Morris, M.D., FACS, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Jefferson Health & Professor of Surgery, and Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. During his remarks, Dr. Morris stated, “When everybody talks about the glory of transplantation, the glory is given to the surgeon or the implantation team. What Howard understood very early on – the glory is actually to the donor and the donor family – that is who needs to be honored. That is why the name of the program is called Gift of Life.”
Mr. Nathan has been with Gift of Life for 39 years. He began his career with the organization as a Transplant Coordinator, and was promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer in 1984. Under Mr. Nathan’s leadership, Gift of Life has grown to be one of the largest organ donation programs in the world, encompassing a network of 15 transplant centers, 41 organ-specific programs, and 131 donor hospitals. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 44,000 organs for transplantation and more than 750,000 life-enhancing tissue transplants.
Of his life’s work Mr. Nathan commented, “Being able to orchestrate the transition from someone’s deepest loss to new life still gives me chills…every day is a tremendous privilege.” He continued, “I am so proud of my team at Gift of Life and the work that we do in partnership with the transplant surgeons and the transplant teams at the hospitals. All of this works only because of the generosity of those who gave the gift of life.”
Mr. Nathan, together with former Center for Organ Recovery & Education Chief Executive Officer Brian Broznick, pioneered the Pennsylvania Driver’s License Registry. This afforded all potential donor families the donor option through Pennsylvania’s Mandatory Patient Referral Policy, which became state law in 1994. It later served as a model for Federal law.
Mr. Nathan has published more than 350 scientific papers and abstracts, and is frequently sought out by national and international media to speak about organ and tissue donation. He has travelled to 17 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Saudi Arabia, to promote best practices in organ donation and transplantation.
In addition, Mr. Nathan serves as President of the Transplant Foundation. He is Founder and Director of Gift of Life Institute, an international research and training center for donation and transplantation professionals, established in 2004. He also serves as President of the Family House, a facility that provides critically needed support programs and temporary lodging for organ transplant patients and their families.
He has served as a leader on a variety of boards throughout his career. He currently sits on the boards of the National Alliance for Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, LifeLogics, Inc., Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, National Disease Research Interchange, Pennsylvania Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee, and he serves as treasurer of the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement (ISODP). He is a previous board member and officer for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). In addition, he was appointed by the Secretary of Health & Human Services to lead the National Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation, and has served on the boards of the National Kidney Foundation, the North American Transplant Coordinators Organization, and the James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness, among others. He is a past President of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO), the Coalition on Donation (now Donate Life America) and the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement (ISODP). Mr. Nathan has been recognized for his advocacy and contributions to the scholarship of transplantation with numerous awards from national organizations.
Mr. Nathan began his career in organ donation and procurement in 1978 as a transplant coordinator for the Delaware Valley Transplant Program, which was later renamed Gift of Life Donor Program. Prior to that, he served as a research specialist at the Wistar Institute. He received his B.S. in Biology and Sociology from Juniata College and went on to study Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.