Transplant Hero Awards Nominees

Congratulations to everyone who has been nominated as part of our Transplant Hero Awards!


Overall, we had 26 nominations from 12 states. A nomination alone is worthy of tremendous applause.


Each and every one of the nominees are heroes who have given selflessly and fully to save a life- some to family, friends, and strangers. Here are some of their stories now.


Nominees for the Gift of Life Award: A living organ donor who has given selflessly and anonymously so that another can live a full and abundant life. This person has given without the desire for recognition or the expectation of receiving something in return.


Michelle Johnson: Michelle donated her kidney to a stranger. As a dialysis technician, Michelle saw what kidney disease has done to patients and wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.


Kaye Basedow: Kaye was a living kidney donor for a 19-year-old girl that she read about in the paper. Kaye continues to volunteer and advocate for organ transplantation.


Russ Cupps: Russ donated his kidney to a stranger after learning about the American Transplant Foundation. Russ is an active member of Team Transplant and developed an organ donation program through the West Metro Fire Department.


Jeff Stripling: Jeff donated his kidney to his father at the age of 23. Jeff is an active member of Team Transplant and continues to promote organ donation.


Sandra Kelly: Sandra donated her kidney to her niece. She continues to reach out to those living with kidney failure.


Adam Leventhal: Adam donated his kidney to a stranger for spiritual fulfillment. He continues to raise awareness through his testimony along with educating others on the organ donation process.


Michael Dietzen: Michael donated his kidney to his wife when he discovered she had kidney failure. Michael is a very active member of the transplant community in New York.


Lisa Dudley: Lisa donated her kidney to a mutual friend who reached out to her over Facebook.


Cara Yesawich: Cara donated her kidney to a stranger after realizing the benefits of living organ donation. She is one of the founders of the non-profit Living Kidney Donor Alliance and is recognized as a mentor in the transplant community.


Matt Jones: Matt donated his kidney to a stranger, being part of the first chain of kidney transplants. He has raised awareness about organ transplantation in the media, such as People Magazine and other news articles.


Deborah Shearer: Deborah donated her kidney to a stranger in order to commemorate her deceased son.  Her donation led to a chain of life donation, providing six families with organ transplants. She continues to advocate organ transplantation.



Nominees for the Patient Advocate Award: An individual who works within the transplant or dialysis field and has gone above and beyond to advocate, care and support for their patients during their transplant journey- specifically regarding living donation.


Laurence Chan: Laurence is a nephrologists and has conducted groundbreaking research in organ transplantation. Laurence continues to pioneer for living donation, especially paired donation.


Megan Buckhendal: Megan is a renal dietician. Megan improves the diets and emotional state of dialysis patients. She continues to advocate and support organ donation relating back to her own personal organ transplant experience.


Nancy Ireland: Nancy is a health transplant coordinator. She pushes patients to achieve their fitness goals after their transplantation surgery, including one of her patients being the first heart transplant recipient to complete the Elephant Rock 32 mile bike race.


Dr. Igal Kam: Dr. Igal Kam is the Executive Director of Transplantation at UCH. Under his leadership the Transplant Program has performed over 1532 Liver Transplants, 1858 kidney transplants, 141 Kidney/Pancreas transplants. Dr. Kam along with members of his team has published numerous papers and book chapters in the field of transplantation.



Applications are under review! Thank you for nominating your transplant hero. Stay tuned for the announcement of the Gift of Life Award and the Patient Advocate Award winners!

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