LifeGift Embodies the Heart of Texas

Although Houston is located nowhere near the geographical center of Texas, it’s OPO, LifeGift, truly represents the breadth of the state and the caring of its people.

“LifeGift is one of the top OPOs in terms of organ referrals and placements for medical research,” said Gina Dunne Smith, Executive Director of IIAM. “They have created a culture that consistently supports research in their own backyard and nationally.”

In both 2016 and 2017, LifeGift placed more than 60 organs for research — demonstrating the OPO’s ongoing commitment to cultivating relationships that foster this important scientific field.

“LifeGift continues to be a great partner,” said Mike Vara, IIAM’s Midwest and West Coast Regional Director. “Staff members regularly participate in our Research Recovery Workshops and always follow proper procedures to meet researchers’ specifications.”
R. Patrick Wood, MD, Medical Director of LifeGift, said “These workshops are extremely valuable, because they train our staff to perform recoveries in the absence of a surgeon.”

As IIAM’s Neonatal Donation Program has expanded, LifeGift, which has a strong partnership with Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, has collaborated with us to facilitate one donation in 2015 and two additional donors in 2017.

During the more recent donation, Andrea Haines, IIAM Placement Coordinator, maintained communication with LifeGift staff and the recovery team to monitor the baby’s condition, and ensure that the researchers’ specifications for the lungs, liver and kidneys were met. “That communication enabled us to keep the family and the hospital ICU up to speed,” said Schawnte’ Williams-Taylor, Director of Family Care Services at LifeGift.

Following the 2017 donation, Vara and Haines met with LifeGift staff, physicians and hospital staff to talk about IIAM’s neonatal donation process. “IIAM has everything covered when it comes to honoring these precious gifts — from providing families with resources on their website, to attending our Donor Council reviews,” said Williams-Taylor. “Parents of neonatal donors are desperate for information; IIAM provides them with tremendous solace and gives meaning to their unimaginable loss,” said Dr. Wood.

“A commitment to medical research is hardwired into our organization,” said Williams-Taylor. “Our goal is to maximize every gift, and donor families are pleased that they are in a position to help advance science,” added said Dr. Wood.

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