2016 Transplant Hero Awards Winners

As we celebrate our Transplant Hero Awards*, we are honored to announce our 2016 award winners 

Congratulations to our very special winners!

TAA winners

Volunteer of the Decade (002)

*This year’s recipients were selected by a committee comprised of community volunteers, donor families, and the Foundation’s Transplant Leadership Council’s Members.

My Donor’s Gift “Has Given Me a Future”

Chelsey Larson, American Transplant Foundation TLC Member and Mentor, chose to donate one of her kidneys to acquaintance Ellen Rorman, an action that gave Ellen a future and changed Larson’s own life forever. Chelsey barely knew Ellen, but that didn’t stop her from donating a kidney. “If people don’t know anybody that went through a transplant, it’s a very scary thing,” Larson said. “I feel like my purpose now is to show others that you can do this.”

 

The vast majority of those who have donated, including Chelsey, have reported quality of life that is higher than someone who is comparable to them in age and sex but have not donated, Spong said. One study Spong cited shows that 99 percent of donors would donate again.

 

Today, Larson is living in Colorado and volunteering with the American Transplant Foundation. She’s working to help raise money for donors and recipients who need financial assistance while recovering from surgery and she wants to increase awareness about donating.

 

“If people don’t know anybody that went through a transplant, it’s a very scary thing,” Larson said. “I feel like my purpose now is to show others that you can do this and you can save a life and still live a perfectly normal and healthy life.”

 

The surgery forever changed Rorman’s life, and she will always be grateful for Larson’s choice.MH_Blogs_AdultTransplant_ChelseyLarsonEllenRorman

 

“Chelsey’s selfless decision to do this for me has given me a chance,” Rorman said. The transplant gave Rorman freedom to go on weeklong vacations, enjoy a weekend without worrying about dialysis, and eat her favorite food, buffalo wings, once more.

 

“It really has given me a future; it’s given me the opportunity to live the life I’ve wanted to live,” she said.

 

To read the full article on University of Minnesota Health, please click here.

Transplant Hero Awards Kickoff Reception

Thank you to our Transplant Hero Awards Gala Committee and Co-Chairs. We are all very much looking forward to the Gala on Saturday, June 11th, and this Kickoff Reception was a perfect celebration of a job well done! The work you are doing with helping us to plan the Gala and spread awareness is insstrumental to our success and is ultimately helping us save lives!

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2016 Elephant Rock Ride – Register Today!

Ride with us at Elephant Rock to Raise Awareness for Organ and Tissue Donation

Team Transplant rides the Elephant Rock - register now to ride with us for discounted registration

Click here to learn about how you can be a part of our signature Team Transplant event near Denver, CO.

 

A special group of transplant recipients and living donors will ride with Team Transplant to prove it’s possible to lead a healthy, active life even after a transplant! Donor families will ride to honor their loved ones who gave the Gift of Life. Supporters will ride to show their support for the cause.

 

Register here in one step for both the Elephant Rock Ride and Team Transplant. All registration fees for the Elephant Rock Ride are discounted for Team Transplant participants! REGISTRATION FEES INCREASE ON MAY 1, 2016.

 

 

Once you’ve registered, you can start fundraising to support the most vulnerable transplant patients. Your requirement for fundraising is just $100 (children 14 years or younger are exempt from the minimum). To earn your 2016 Team Transplant Cycling Jersey, simply raise $250.

 

2015 Transplant Leadership Council Holiday Party

 

TLC Holiday Party all guests group shot

 

 

We had a great time at our annual  Holiday Party celebrating the American Transplant Foundation’s Transplant Leadership Council (TLC)! This event was a great chance for us to gather and reflect on the impact of this group’s fundraising and stewardship of our Patient Assistance Program.

 

 

We traveled around the world with a beach-themed photo booth, food from Mexico and Italy and lots of fun activities! We sponsored vulnerable families going through the transplant process with our Tree of Life and through our silent auction.

 

 

Thank you to everyone who made this event possible and we look forward to a great 2016 with the Transplant Leadership Council!

 

HP fungroup

Kickball Tournament for Transplant

This week, we received an unexpected $600 donation from a 14 year old. She single-handedly organized a kickball tournament for charity a few weeks ago. We were so honored to she chose the American Transplant Foundation as a beneficiary of her fundraising and hear the story of their successful tournament in our honor. Here are some fun photos from her event!

 

kickball collage

If you are interested in building a campaign or holding an event in our honor, we’d love to talk with you about how to get started! Please call us at 303-757-0959.

Transplant Leadership Council Meets at 34 Degrees

The American Transplant Foundation’s young professionals group, the Transplant Leadership Council held their last meeting of the year this week at the new headquarters of the incredibly successful Denver cracker company 34 Degrees. We loved having the chance to talk to CEO Craig Lieberman about his journey and the important values of community and teamwork he keeps at the forefront of his company culture.

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The Transplant Leadership Council helps in decision-making for the recipients of our Patient Financial Assistance Programs and reflected over the success of the 133 patients we have been able to provide assistance for this year to date!

 

As the year comes to an end we are currently accepting applications to be involved with this group. You don’t need to be a Denver resident to be involved, we welcome members from all across the country. If you are interested, please apply here!

 

For those already involved, we encourage you to nominate yourself or another member for our 2016 Co-Chair position, helping to provide leadership and involvement to the Transplant Leadership Council! Nominations should be sent to Erica@americantransplantfoundation.org.

 

American Transplant Foundation Community Outreach

Unite to Fight PKD.

On September 20th, 2015 we United to Fight PKD at Washington Park, Denver, CO!

 

The American Transplant Foundation was proud to sponsor and host an informational booth for the community at this event. Our goal was to spread awareness for living donation and help answer any questions regarding transplant. It was great to connect with such a fantastic organization again this year- the PKD Foundation.

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Patient Grant Helps Altruistic Living Donor

Facebook connects living donor with sick Sebring woman

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There amid all the causes, cat videos and Candy Crush found on a Facebook feed, a Pennsylvania woman heard a cry for help.

 

Five months later, 29-year-old Michelle Zipp of New Paris boarded a plane for Tampa and donated a kidney to a Sebring woman she had never heard of before the social media post — a friend of her boyfriend’s cousin.

 

The recipient, Shirley Di Simone, had seen her kidney function decline to about 5 percent by the time of the operation. Within two days after the Aug. 27 procedure, Di Simone was at 100 percent.

 

Michelle said the decision to become a living donor was an easy one for her. Michelle received a Patient Assistance Grant from the American Transplant Foundation to help her with her lost wages during travel and recovery from donor surgery.

 

Click here to see the full article.

Bridge to Bridge: A Milestone in a Seven Year Journey

gavin and zander

Gavin & Zander Maitland

About the Author: Zander Maitland is the youngest member on our Transplant Leadership Council with one of the biggest passions for service and giving back to help transplant patients have the same second chance at life as his father. Here they are pictured at the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in October 2014.

 

It has been over seven years since my dad received his life-saving lung transplant, and six since he has returned to what most would consider a normal adult life: eating food rather than nutrients from a tube, working full time, and most importantly to him and the rest of us, staying active.

 

Only a day after the operation and unable to speak, he pulled my mom aside and with a pencil in hand, he inscribed his first word after months of waiting, hours of preparation and surgery, and continuously falling in and out of consciousness onto a pad of paper: walk.

 

He put on his running shoes, and soon after the doctor had approved, marched out of the ICU and began his walking regimen. Gradually he began to recover and gain back his strength, and soon his strolls down the halls of Duke University hospital had become short jogs, and after that, long runs. Six months later, he took his first steps into the pool and began swimming.

 

Unlike probably most people, my dad has always believed the best way to stay healthy is to stay active whether through swimming, running, biking, or other activities that engage the body and mind. In the years since his transplant, he has completed dozens of 5ks, 10ks, and even a few half marathons as well as many open water swim events, most of which my sister and I have completed with him.

 

However, in the late spring of 2013, the three of us found ourselves vying for something more challenging, something truly impressive to test the limits of what can be accomplished thanks to organ transplant. Talking to my swim team coach one morning, he mentioned a 1.5 mile swimming race from Alcatraz island across the bay to the mainland. For those who are not familiar with swimming, that distance is equivalent to about 100 lengths in a standard pool, not to mention the freezing cold water, powerful currents, and of course, sharks rumored to be found in the bay.

 

Golden gate bridge shrouded in clouds

The Maitland’s photo of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge shrouded in clouds

We registered for the race the next day, and on an early morning in May, we found ourselves in wetsuits on a small boat, jumping feet first into the dark murky waters of the San Francisco bay, only a few feet from the edge of the Alcatraz prison. The cloudy sky was vast and ominous as we began our trek across the bay, and even with our wetsuits, the salty water was incredibly cold, forcing us to constantly stay in motion to keep hypothermia at bay. Between breaths we would glance up at the city, the skyscrapers and white stone buildings suddenly illuminated by the rising sun through the veil of fog that almost always covers the area. We finished the swim an hour later on a sandy beach near Pier 39, and even managed to get coffee and chocolate at the Ghiradelli factory before 9 o’clock.

 

 

Now almost two years after that morning in June, we returned to San Francisco for an even bigger adventure: a 6.2 mile (10 kilometer) swim race from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oakland Bay Bridge. Although I personally experienced some trepidation at first, having not swum for a year and being too busy with high school to train, we all agreed to do the swim together.

 

Me and my kayaker during the last

Zander and his kayaker – last stretch!

Soon I found myself with the same endless dark sky and murky abyss of water below me standing in a very similar small boat on an early August morning, ready to leap into the icy water with nothing but my wetsuit, goggles, a silicone swim cap, and a bright green light to help the supporting kayakers keep track of us for the 5:30 am, pitch black start. The excited faces of the other swimmers glowed in the lights of the Golden Gate Bridge above us and as I looked far across the dark water at the ominous shape of Alcatraz island and even farther across the water to the our destination, I was reminded of how incredibly thankful I was for the gift of transplant. I stood in silent reflection contemplating the past six years of my life and the amazing journey my father had taken to arrive at this moment and also the six miles of arduous swimming ahead of us. In that moment, I felt truly grateful for the lungs my dad had received and amazed at how much he had accomplished thanks to his transplant; feats and adventures over the last few years that would have been impossible otherwise.

 

My sister and mom standing with the Bay bridge behind them.

Zander’s sister and mother, Riley and Julie, standing by the Bay bridge

Having completed the swim and thinking back on it now, I am always reminded of that moment in the boat. I am reminded of the importance and power of donation and the tremendous impact it can have on the lives of recipients like my dad. I am reminded that when you decide to donate to another person, whether they are a friend, family member, or stranger, you are not only giving them the gift of a precious organ, you are literally giving them a life.