PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Gift of Life Donor Program Governing Board announced today that Howard M. Nathan plans to retire from his position as President and CEO on January 4, 2022, and that Richard (Rick) Hasz, Jr., MFS, CPTC, who currently serves as the organization’s Vice President of Clinical Services, will assume the role, which encompasses overseeing the Gift of Life Donor Program, Gift of Life Family House and Transplant Foundation. Nathan is currently the longest-serving CEO of an organ procurement organization (OPO) in the United States, having served in that role since 1984. He will continue to lead the organization throughout the remainder of the year and then will become Executive Director of Gift of Life’s Transplant Foundation.
“Never could I imagine all that we would accomplish at Gift of Life when I began here in 1978 as one of three employees. I am proud and humbled to have served alongside dedicated leadership, hospital partners, volunteers and our staff of now more than 270 extraordinary professionals who work tirelessly every day, 24/7, to save lives,” said Nathan. “I am honored and excited about the many opportunities to further advance our mission as Executive Director of the Transplant Foundation. Having worked side-by-side with Rick for nearly three decades, I know that no one is better positioned to lead and accelerate Gift of Life’s tremendous growth and impact on those we serve.”
Nathan has been with Gift of Life, one of the oldest and largest organ procurement organizations in the United States, for the past 43 years and has served as CEO for 38 years. Since 1974, the program has coordinated more than 53,500 organs for transplantation and more than 2 million tissue transplants.
“Howard has dedicated his life and career to the Gift of Life Donor Program and its critical mission of saving lives. A masterful relationship builder and influential voice, Howard has grown Gift of Life to be the largest and most active organ donation program in the country,” said Gift of Life Governing Board Chair, Barbara Wadsworth, DNP, RN, the Chief Operating Officer of Main Line Health System. “We are thrilled to continue learning from Howard and see the impact internationally as he leads the Transplant Foundation as its Executive Director beginning in 2022.”
Nathan leads Gift of Life with Hasz and Jan L. Weinstock, Vice President of Administration and General Counsel. Together, they have more than 90 years of experience with Gift of Life. Both Nathan and Hasz began their careers as Transplant Coordinators, working directly with grieving families in the hospital considering giving others a second chance at life through organ donation. Weinstock joined Gift of Life in 1999, after serving as a partner at a leading Philadelphia law firm where she specialized in health law.
“The Governing Board is excited and abundantly confident in the succession plan,” Wadsworth added. “Rick is nationally and internationally recognized for his expertise and contributions to the field. The processes, systems and outreach programs developed and employed by Gift of Life’s Clinical Services team under Rick’s leadership are widely acknowledged as best practices and are reflected in Gift of Life’s outstanding outcomes. Under Rick’s leadership, the donor program has coordinated the most organ donors nationally since 2008 and the tissue program has grown significantly to provide healing to tens of thousands of patients. Rick has spearheaded strong, innovative partnerships not only throughout the Gift of Life network of 128 donor hospitals and 15 transplant centers, but with medical leaders across the country.”
As Vice President of Clinical Services, Hasz leads day-to-day clinical operations for the most active OPO in the United States, with clinical programs that include Transplant Coordination, Hospital Development, Organ Preservation, Quality Assurance, Tissue Recovery, Eye Bank and Donation and Transplant Analytics. Under his stewardship, the team works 24/7 to address the critical need for organs for transplant, working daily with donor families, medical professionals, hospital administrators and others in the donation and transplant community to promote and increase donation opportunities.
“I am tremendously honored to serve as the next President and CEO of Gift of Life and to continue to work alongside the Governing Board, Jan, the leadership team, our dedicated staff and incredible volunteer network,” said Hasz. “As we look to the future, I know this team will continue to be the best advocates for the thousands of patients who are awaiting a second chance at life while simultaneously honoring organ donors and comforting their families. Howard’s role at the Foundation will allow us to further share learnings, promote research and continue to challenge ourselves until no one dies waiting for an organ. As a mentor to me and to so many other organ donation professionals, I’ve had the privilege to witness first-hand Howard’s commitment and compassion for our mission and the people who make donation possible. His contributions to our field and to me personally have changed countless lives, and empowered future generations of OPO leaders to improve our donation system.”
Gift of Life Notable Achievements
- Operating the largest and most active OPO in the country. The Gift of Life Donor Program has led the nation in the most organ donors for the past 13 years.
- Establishing the Gift of Life Family House in 2011 which serves as a “home away from home” for transplant patients and their families by providing temporary, affordable lodging, and supportive services to those who travel to Philadelphia for transplant-related care.
- Launching the Gift of Life Institute in 2004, an international training center for organ and tissue donation professionals offering comprehensive, interdisciplinary resources to increase donation outcomes, including skills-based learning, continuing education, collaborative research, and consulting services.
- Collaborating with transplant surgeons, critical care physicians and other medical leaders on pioneering and innovative work to advance donation and transplantation. Gift of Life has been at the forefront of groundbreaking research on advancements such as Donation After Circulatory Death and Vascular Composite Allograft donation and transplantation. In recent years, they have coordinated donations for uterine transplants and the nation’s first bilateral pediatric hand transplant, first United States African American face transplant and first successful bilateral hand and face transplant.
- Championing landmark legislation on organ donation and donor referral in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey that has saved thousands of lives and served as a model nationally.
Howard M. Nathan
Nathan joined Gift of Life Donor Program in 1978 as a Transplant Coordinator and has led the organization as its President and CEO since 1984. He also serves as President of the Transplant Foundation, Founder and President of Gift of Life Institute, and Founder and President of Gift of Life Family House. Nathan is the longest-serving CEO of any OPO in the United States.
Recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on organ and tissue donation, Nathan 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. Nathan 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.
Nathan serves or has served on numerous national leadership boards including United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO), Coalition on Donation (now Donate Life America), International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement (ISODP), Pennsylvania Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee, National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI), North American Transplant Coordinators Organization (NATCO), Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance (ODTA), LifeLogics, Inc., MTF Biologics, among others. He received an appointment from the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation.
Nathan has received many outstanding achievement awards from multiple national organizations for his important contributions to the donation and transplantation field. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Juniata College, and received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Juniata College when he delivered the commencement address in May 2021.
Richard Hasz, Jr.
Hasz has served as Gift of Life’s Vice President of Clinical Services since 1999. His career encompasses more than 30 years of life-saving work in the organ donation and transplantation field. He has delivered lectures for more than 60 professional organizations across the world and participated in publishing hundreds of scientific papers about donation and transplantation. He was recently elected to the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) Executive Committee and has served as President of the American Board for Transplant Certification. He has contributed to numerous United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) committees, including serving as chair of the Operations and Safety Committee.
Hasz has worked jointly with numerous investigators from a host of prestigious government, academic medical and nonprofit institutions on innovative research, including serving as lead investigator with the National Disease Research Interchange Genotype-Tissue Expression Project for the National Institutes of Health. His work has led to pioneering protocols supporting Vascular Composite Allograft donation and transplantation, including bilateral pediatric hand transplants, uterus donation, the first United States African American face transplant and the world’s first successful face and bilateral hand transplants.
Hasz regularly shares his expertise with government and other national organizations, including serving as a faculty member for the HRSA Breakthrough Collaborative and providing expert testimony for the National Academy of Sciences, HHS and CMS. He holds memberships in the North American Transplant Coordinators Organization, The American Society of Transplant Surgeons, The American Association of Tissue Banks, and the City of Philadelphia, Department of Public Health’s Institutional Review Board.
Hasz has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Forensic Science from George Washington University. He holds certifications as Certified Procurement Transplant Coordinator (CPTC) and Certified Transplant Preservationist (CTP).
Gift of Life Donor Program
Gift of Life Donor Program is the non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization, working with 128 acute care hospitals and 15 transplant centers to serve 11.3 million people in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Thanks to its compassionate community, for the past 13 years, Gift of Life has coordinated the most organ donors in the United States. Its annual donation rate, most recently 55 organ donors-per-million-population, ranks among the highest in the world. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 53,500 life-saving organs for transplant, and more than 2 million tissue transplants have resulted from the generosity of donors and their families. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can improve the lives of more than 100 others.
Transplant Foundation supports research, education and services to advance donation and transplantation. Its Gift of Life Institute has trained more than 11,000 professionals from 33 countries. Transplant Pregnancy Registry International has published more than 200 papers informing treatment guidelines for post-transplant pregnancies. The Foundation offers grants to fund innovation, quality and safety through scientific research, social and behavioral interventions or alternate approaches to existing processes and protocols. In recent years, it has funded over 18 biomedical research trials.