Howard M. Nathan
Executive Director, Gift of Life Transplant Foundation
Howard M. Nathan is executive director of the Philadelphia-based Gift of Life Transplant Foundation, a supporting affiliate of Gift of Life Donor Program. He is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on organ and tissue donation.
Under Mr. Nathan’s direction, the Transplant Foundation leads research and education to advance donation and transplantation around the world. It includes Gift of Life Institute, which was founded by Mr. Nathan in 2004, and Transplant Pregnancy Registry International, which provides 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, Transplant Foundation has funded more than 18 biomedical research trials.
Mr. Nathan was appointed executive director of the Transplant Foundation in January 2022, after he retired from his position as president and CEO following 43 years with Gift of Life. Mr. Nathan served as president and CEO of Gift of Life for 38 years, building it into one of the largest and busiest OPOs in the nation, renowned for its best practices. Mr. Nathan became the longest-serving, and one of the most respected chief executives, of any OPO in the U.S.
Under Mr. Nathan’s strong leadership, Gift of Life Donor Program led the nation in the most organ donors of any OPO in the U.S. for 14 consecutive years. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 55,000 organs for transplantation and more than two million tissue transplants. Gift of Life’s network includes 14 transplant centers with 40 organ-specific programs and 129 donor hospitals which serve 11.3 million people throughout the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Mr. Nathan is also the founder and past president of the Gift of Life Family House, the first-of-its-kind healthcare hospitality house in the nation, which opened in 2011. Family House provides temporary, affordable lodging, home-cooked meals and a strong professional support system for transplant patients and their families. Family House has served more than 2,800 families and provided more than $10 million in subsidized care.
Noted for his leadership and scholarship in the field of organ and tissue donation, Mr. Nathan is a frequent 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 and has traveled to more than 30 countries to share best practices. Mr. 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.
Mr. Nathan 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) and past president of Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF) Board of Directors.
Mr. Nathan received an appointment from the secretary of health and human services to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation (ACOT), 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.
Mr. Nathan 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 is also a member of OPTN/UNOS Ad Hoc International Relations Committee.
Mr. Nathan 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. Mr. Nathan 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), Philadelphia Smart CEO Magazine “Circle of Excellence Award” (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), Main Line Today “Healthcare Heroes Award” (2019), The Alliance “Transformational Leader Award” (2021) and Help Hope Live “Hope Award” (2021).
Mr. Nathan received his Bachelor of Science from Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania in 1975. In May 2021, Mr. Nathan delivered the commencement address at his alma mater and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.