It is a humble honor to recognize and celebrate oustanding individuals who have made a remarkable impact in the transplant community. Every nomination we received touched our hearts. We believe that these stories must be shared because every nomination we received marks the impact of a HERO. Please take a moment to read their incredible stories here.
This year’s recipients were selected by a committee comprised of community volunteers, donor families, and the Foundation’s Transplant Leadership Council’s Members.
As we celebrate our Inaugural Transplant Hero Awards and the incredible Gift of Life, we are honored to announce our 2013 award winners.
The American Transplant Foundation is pleased to present the Gift of Life Award to the following altruistic living donors: Kaye Basedow, Russ Cupps, Adam Levanthal and Cara Yesawich. The Foundation compliments them on their extraordinary dedication to saving lives and continued commitment to raising awareness of living donation.
The Gift of Life Award is being presented to altruistic living organ donors who have given selflessly and anonymously so that another can live a full and abundant life. These individuals have continued to go above and beyond in their work to support other living organ donors.
Kaye Basedow of Westminster, Colorado
Kaye Basedow stepped forward to make the ultimate gift, donating life (her kidney) to 19-year-old Kelsey Crider in 2009. She read about Kelsey’s two previous transplants and rejections in the Boulder newspaper. Compelled by Kelsey’s need, Kaye underwent all testing to qualify as a living organ donor. When Kelsey’s family decided to have her transplant done in Minnesota, Kaye agreed! She flew to Rochester 4 months prior to surgery for additional testing, took time from her job to do so and agreed to come back in July or 2009 for the actual transplant. Her daughter Kelly came with her and both stayed for over a week for pre op and post op treatments.
Kaye is admired by everyone that meets and knows her. Here unselfish gift of her kidney to a stranger is an inspiration to many in the transplant community. She continues to give back to others, donates her time to the ATF and others within her hospital community and leads by example when talking to others about living donation. She is a living example to many that living organ donation is a viable alternative and not a risk, short or long term, to the organ donor.
Russ Cupps of Castle Rock, Colorado
Russ Cupps anonymously donated his kidney after learning about living organ donation through the American Transplant Foundation. Compelled by the idea that he could save someone’s life and continue to live a healthy life as a firefighter, Russ voluntarily underwent the testing process with no specific donor in mind. Russ has become very involved in raising awareness and funds for the American Transplant Foundation.
In 2013, he and his team of riders raised over $6,000 for the Foundation by participating with Team Transplant in the 24 Hours of Elephant Rock. Russ has also worked to implement a system to secure donors when the West Metro Fire Department arrives on the scene of a fatal accident. This is the first program in the nation of its kind. While he may have saved one life by kidney donation, the plan that West Metro has implemented could evolve into saving hundreds of lives over the years.
Adam Leventhal of Denver, Colorado
Adam Leventhal donated his kidney to an anonymous recipient in March, 2013. During Rosh Hashanah in the fall of 2012, Adam reach an article about a mother of three who recently donated a kidney to a stranger. As a result, Adam was inspired to begin researching the process of organ donation. He privately consulted his doctor and mentors within his faith.
Adam was able to meet his recipient, his wife and three of his five children the morning of the surgery. Adam feels that meeting was the most joyful moment of his life. Adam want to serve as a role model as an example and hopefully inspire others to consider a live organ donation.
Cara Yesawich of Aurora, Illinois!
Cara was the altruistic (non designated donor) that allowed 8 people to receive a kidney in Chicago. She wanted to have someone benefit now through her donating a kidney as opposed to later. She is well educated in the kidney community has mentored over 30 individuals through the living donation process, was featured on Chicago’s WGN TV and continues to educate, speak and donate her time to those who would like to know more about what it’s like to go through the process.
She continues to meet, talk and visit those who want the chance to speak with someone who has been through the process, who is not within the medical community. She does not give medical advice, she only shares and answers questions about concerns and just educating other donors. It is time consuming but she has a true passion to make a difference for those needing a kidney.
The American Transplant Foundation is also pleased to present the Patient Advocate Award to the following medical professionals: Dr. Laurence Chan and Dr. Igan Kam.
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, MD of Aurora, Colorado – Physican, Nephrologist
Dr. Chan has produced groundbreaking research in transplantation across the spectrum from basic science (nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging) to clinical practice (low dose prednisone, paired donation). He has trained generations of transplant physicians across the world and has tirelessly advocated for transplant patients in his personal practice.
Dr. Chan developed a local model of interdisciplinary cooperative, which has become the standard for University transplantation programs. Dr. Chan has been a pioneer in all living donation and especially paired donation. He is kind, compassionate and superbly skilled. Patients, staff, students and other physicians absolutely love this man. Dr. Chan uses his talents at the University of Colorado to make an impact every single day!
Dr. Igal Kam of Aurora, Colorado – Executive Director of Transplantation
Dr. Kam is the Executive Director of the transplant program at the University of Colorado Hospital. Under his leadership the Transplant Program has thrived in liver, kidney, and pancreas transplants. Dr. Kam along with members of his team has published numerous papers and book chapters in the field of transplantation. Dr. Kam continually pursues excellence in patient outcomes and invests in seeing his patients live a full and happy life as a result of a transplant!
The American Transplant Foundation is pleased to present the Transplant Hero Award to the following oustanding individuals: Steven and Gregg Farber.
Transplant Hero Award: This person has made an impact in the transplant community well beyond the scope of traditional expectations and has become a hero for many.
Steven and Gregg Farber
Gregg’s decision to become a living kidney donor for his father, Steve, in 2004 began a lifelong journey to save lives for the Farber family. Together, their passion is to help others navigate difficult organ transplant issues, and the personal challenges that come with it. Committed to seeing lives saved through organ donation and transplantation, Steve founded the American Transplant Foundation in 2005. This decision has lead to instrumental change in the transplant community as the Foundation now helps the most vulnerable transplant patients through its nationwide programs. As a result, transplant patients, living donors and their families in over 30 states have been supported through financial assistance.
Congratulations to all of our wonderful winners and truly amazing nominees. We look forward to celebrating your wonderful contributions to the transplant community at the Transplant Hero Awards!