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Howard M. Nathan

President and CEO, Gift of Life Donor Program

Howard M. Nathan, President & CEO of Gift of Life Donor Program in Philadelphia.

Howard M. Nathan is President & CEO of Philadelphia-based Gift of Life Donor Program, one of the oldest and largest of the 57 organ procurement organizations (OPO) in the United States.  Howard began working at the organization in 1978 as a Transplant Coordinator and has led the organization since 1984.  He is the longest-serving CEO of any OPO in the United States.  

Howard has decided to retire after serving as President and CEO of Gift of Life for 38 years.  He will transition to a new role as Executive Director of the Gift of Life Foundation, effective January 4, 2022.  He will be succeeded by Richard (Rick) Hasz, Jr., MFS, CPTC, who has served as Gift of Life’s Vice President of Clinical Services since 1999 and who started his work at Gift of Life in 1993 as a Transplant Coordinator.  

Under Howard’s strong leadership, Gift of Life has led the nation in the most organ donors of any OPO in the United States for 13 consecutive years. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 53,500 organs for transplantation and more than 2 million tissue transplants.  Gift of Life has 15 transplant centers with 40 organ-specific programs and 128 donor hospitals which serve 11.3 million people throughout the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware. 

In addition to his role as President & CEO of Gift of Life Donor Program, Howard is also the President of the Transplant Foundation, Founder and President of the Gift of Life Institute, an international research and training center for donation and transplantation professionals established in 2004, and Founder and President of the Gift of Life Family House which opened in 2011.  

Considered as one of the nation’s leading authorities on organ and tissue donation, Howard is a regular presenter at regional, national, and international organ and tissue procurement, transplantation, and medical/healthcare conferences.  He has published more than 400 scientific papers and abstracts in his 43-year tenure and has traveled to more than 30 countries to share best practices.  Howard helped draft and advocated for Pennsylvania’s routine referral of all deaths organ donation law in 1994 which served as a model for national legislation. 

Howard was elected to the Board of Directors for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) for three terms and served as Treasurer.  He is a past president of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO), past president of the Coalition on Donation (now Donate Life America), past president of the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement (ISODP), past president of MTF Biologics Donation Board of Trustees and former member of MTF Biologics Governing Board.  

Howard received an appointment from the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation, an expert panel that advises the Secretary on all aspects of organ procurement, allocation, and transplantation.  

He also served on the boards of American Red Cross Blood Services (Penn Jersey Region), Delaware Valley Healthcare Council (DVHC), North American Transplant Coordinators Organization (NATCO), National Kidney Foundation (NKF), and James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness.  

Howard currently serves on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee, National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI), LifeLogics, Inc., and MTF Biologics Donation Board of Trustees.  He also is a Member of OPTN/UNOS Ad Hoc International Relations Committee.

Howard is regularly consulted by members of the media.  He has been quoted in The New York Times and USA Today and featured in international broadcast and print news media, appearing on hundreds of news and talk programs (CNN, MSNBC, Geraldo, Donohue, Morton Downey Jr., CCTV (China), NHK (Japan)).  

He was presented with The Belzer Award in 1997 for outstanding abstract at the 4th International Society for Organ Sharing Congress.  Howard received numerous outstanding achievement awards from national organizations including:  National Kidney Foundation, U.S. Transplant Games Committee (1992), National Kidney Foundation of Delaware Valley (1994), Association of Organ Procurement Organization (1996), American Liver Foundation “Celebrating Achievement Award” (2002), National Disease Research Interchange “Distinguished Service to Science Award” (2007), LifeNet Health “Exemplary Service Award” (2007), “Circle of Excellence Award from Philadelphia Smart CEO Magazine (2016), Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley “Knight of the Blind” Award (2017), Juniata College “Alumni Achievement Award” (2017), Donate Life America “Nicholas Green Lifetime Achievement Award” (2017), Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) “President’s” Award (2018), and Main Line Today “Healthcare Heroes Award (2019).   

Howard received his Bachelor of Science degree from Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA, in 1975.  In May 2021, Howard delivered the commencement address at his alma mater and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.