Philadelphia, PA –

Gift of Life Donor Program – the non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) serving the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware – set a new national achievement in February by coordinating gifts from 57 organ donors in one month. The precious gifts donated from 57 selfless individuals resulted in 148 life-saving organ transplants. With this record-breaking accomplishment, Gift of Life also marked the first time in U.S. donation history that an OPO coordinated more than 500 donors in a consecutive 12-month period. From March, 2015 to February, 2016, Gift of Life coordinated 511 organ donors. These milestones demonstrate the generosity of individuals and donor families in our region, and exemplify Gift of Life staff’s tireless dedication to ensuring every potential donor family is given the opportunity to create a legacy for their loved one.

Providing life-saving organ transplants to the men, women and children on the transplant waitlist wouldn’t be possible without the selfless decision of donors and donor families who say “yes” to donation. The choice to donate – often made at a grief-stricken and terrible moment in life – is one that is far-reaching and life-changing. One organ donor can save and enhance the lives of up to 50 others – a gift that is impactful to the recipients, their family members and the community as a whole.

“We are grateful to those individuals who made the decision to look past their own loss to help others.” said Howard M. Nathan, President and CEO, Gift of Life Donor Program. “Gift of Life has been able to reach its goals through our strong partnerships with the region’s 129 acute care hospitals and 15 transplant centers. Together, we ensure that donation is offered to families in a compassionate and positive manner.”

Malvern, PA resident, Kevin Tighe, understands first-hand the life-saving power of donation. Kevin, 59, was given a second chance at life this past month when he received a double lung transplant. Kevin said, “Before my transplant, it was really bad. I had to give up all of the things that I enjoyed, and couldn’t be self-sufficient. It took everything in me to just walk from the bed to the sofa, and I needed to be on oxygen all the time.” Post-transplant, Kevin is healing and getting stronger every day through physical therapy. When asked what his donor and organ donation mean to him, he said, “The fact that people can leave this world and help so many others – I hope that it’s a comfort to their families. It’s such a generous act. For me, the most important thing is that I haven’t left my three sons and wife without a father and husband. I get to live my life now, spend time with them and be there for all of the big moments in life.” Kevin and his wife, Lori, stayed at Gift of Life’s Family House after his transplant, and were grateful to have a place to call their “home away from home” during his recovery.

“We are proud of these accomplishments and have built a strategic plan so we can continue to have an impact on the number of patients saved.” said Gerard J. Fulda, MD, Chair of the Department of Surgery at Christiana Care Health System; Chair, Gift of Life Governing Board. “Through combining public awareness with the excellent end of life care provided by our acute care hospital partners and medical staff, we can work to ensure that all families see organ and tissue donation as a fundamental human responsibility.”

There are more than 5,700 people in our region – and over 121,000 nationally – whose lives depend on the kindness of strangers to make a choice that will give them a second chance at life. Unfortunately, an average of 21 people in the U.S. die each day while waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. No final act is more heartfelt or caring than donating ones’ organs. It shows an individual’s compassion for others, and can change lives forever.