We are incredibly lucky to work with a network of medical professionals who bring the gift of life full circle by treating patients with our allografts, delivering amazing results. We are proud to continue our work with a number of surgeons around the country to advance the possibilites of tissue transplantation with the testing of new allografts.
Kirstin struggled with a debilitating knee condition for many years, made more challenging by her active job as a nurse at Shriner’s Hospital in Chicago.
Though she underwent several different treatments for her knee, her pain persisted. She received an osteochondral allograft transplant in 2015 and is now able to continue helping patients heal.
She recently shared her story in her own words and discussed how grateful she is for the gift she received.
Read her story here.
The organization is partnering with the National Disease Research Interchange to recover donor brains to help researchers at the University of Maryland’s Brain and Tissue Bank explore the behavioral causes associated with Autism, a complex disorder of brain development, that according to Autism Speaks, affects one out of 68 births in the United States.
“We are thankful to the donor and donor family for this precious gift that will help researchers continue to shed light on the different facets of this disorder and potentially bring hope to the many people impacted by autism,” said Brian Roe, senior managing director of tissue services and communication center operations. “LifeGift is privileged to be among the nine organ and tissue recovery agencies participating in this project, which has the potential to change medical history.”
Read more about this partnership here.
As Freeda herself says, she has “had an interesting life.” Now she’s able to write a whole new chapter because of a unique type of tissue donation – a sternum allograft.
One of Freeda’s former jobs was working as an ordained minister in a hospital. She counseled people going through unimaginable circumstances and worked with families who were considering organ, eye and tissue donation for their loved one.
“I worked with many families who were faced with horrible situations,” she said. “It is so hard to lose someone, but the decision to donate can and does matter to so many people. They need to know it’s going to be a blessing for someone who might be without hope.”
Freeda could never have imagined that one day she would be the recipient of a stranger’s generosity.
After undergoing open-heart surgery, the bones and fixation wiring in her chest were fragile. About a year after her surgery, she fell and broke some of the wiring in her chest. She took another serious fall and pulverized the remaining bones and wiring.
“I became wheelchair-bound for five years because there was nothing to protect my heart,” she said. “My back was healing, but it started to twist because the front of my body wasn’t stable. I went to see so many doctors and they told me there was nothing that could be done.”
Freeda went to see Dr. Archibald Miller, who presented a solution. He wanted to perform a sternum transplant using an allograft to help provide stability on the front side of her body, as well as protect her internal organs. Because of her previous experience with donation, Freeda was immediately grateful to her donor and donor’s family.
After waiting for nearly six months for the allograft, Freeda underwent surgery.
“I went from having a pain level every day of eight, with pain medication, to basically a zero when I came out of surgery,” Freeda said. “Now I’m working on rebuilding my strength.”
No longer wheelchair-bound, Freeda is able to enjoy a life with few restrictions.
“I feel so blessed because I’m truly starting my life over again. I feel doubly blessed because I’ve seen both sides of donation. I hope my story can help educate people about the potential of donated tissue.”
AlloSource, one of the nation’s largest providers of cartilage, cellular, bone, skin and soft-tissue allografts for use in surgical procedures and wound care to advance patient healing, donated tissue allografts to Mercy Ships, a nonprofit organization using hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services to those without access in the developing world, to help save and improve lives through medical procedures.
Doctors onboard the world’s largest private hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, owned and operated by Mercy Ships, performed maxillofacial surgeries using bone allografts donated by AlloSource to change the lives of patients with tumors and other facial conditions. Mercy Ships will continue to use grafts from AlloSource during its current service in Madagascar.
“Through the incredible work of Mercy Ships, the gift of human tissue donation is able to help change lives across the world,” said Thomas Cycyota, AlloSource president and CEO. “We are proud to support this organization’s efforts to provide free surgeries to patients and honor donors by continuing their legacy of generosity.”
Continue reading here.
As a soccer player for the University of Illinois, Rachel constantly pushed herself. Being active was crucial to her lifestyle both on and off the soccer field. She was also passionate about medicine, but didn’t know yet that she would eventually be on both sides of the operating table.
After a partial lateral meniscus tear put her on the sidelines, she underwent an arthroscopic partial lateral meniscectomy. She returned to soccer and her pre-injury level of play until she tore her remaining meniscus.
Her pain subsided after an arthroscopic procedure to have the non-viable tissue removed, but then her knee issues returned.
“Being unable to remain physically fit, or lead an active lifestyle, became a huge problem for me,” she said. “As sports and fitness, particularly soccer, were such huge components of my life, I was extremely frustrated with my knee.”
When Rachel met with Dr. Brian Cole of Rush University Medical Center, she learned she was a candidate for a meniscus transplant. Since donor meniscus tissue is matched to the recipient by size, she was placed on a waiting list. Three weeks before starting medical school, she received her match.
In addition to balancing her recovery and a strict physical therapy regimen, Rachel focused on medical school. She also began running again and completed the Chicago Triathlon in 2008.
Throughout the course of medical school, Rachel’s experience with allograft transplantation stayed with her and would eventually help shape the course of her career.
“As a direct reflection of my fascination with musculoskeletal function laid against the backdrop of my own patient experiences, I pursued a yearlong Orthopaedic Research Fellowship within the Division of Sports Medicine in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center,” she explained.
During her research year, Rachel started training for and subsequently completed the Hawaii Half-Ironman. While she was preparing for the race, some of her knee symptoms came back. After the race, she required a revision of the meniscus allograft and received a lateral femoral condyle osteochondral allograft.
“Ever since the revision surgery, I have been functioning at an incredibly high level,” Rachel said.
Now an orthopedic surgery resident at Rush University Medical Center, Rachel works alongside Dr. Cole, the surgeon who helped her heal. Many of her research projects involve allograft applications and her experience as an allograft recipient provides a unique connection to her patients in need of a tissue transplant.
“The allograft has allowed me to be a surgeon, permitting me to stand for over 12 hours in the operating room without thinking about my knee because I have literally no pain or swelling,” she said.
“Before the allograft transplantation, there is no way I would have been able to do this. I am incredibly grateful for my tissue donors and their families. This gift has inspired me to pursue my passion for orthopaedic and sports medicine and to help my future patients the same way Dr. Cole and his team helped me.”
Colorado State University Professor Earns Funding for Musculoskeletal Trauma and Cancer Research | August 17, 2015
Today Dr. Nicole Ehrhart, a veterinarian, board-certified surgical oncologist and CSU professor of surgical oncology, assumes the Ross M. Wilkins, M.D. Limb Preservation University Chair in Musculoskeletal Biology and Oncology. Among Colorado State’s highest honors, University Chairs are funding mechanisms used to support outstanding scholars in their quests for new knowledge in critical fields. Ehrhart is one of 14 CSU faculty members holding academic chairs endowed at $3 million.
At Colorado State’s Flint Animal Cancer Center, Dr. Ehrhart teaches and treats animal patients. She also studies ways to prevent limb loss and to regenerate bones and muscle in people and animals whose extremities are threatened by cancer, infection or trauma. Ehrhart employs surgical and bone-grafting techniques, as well as biologics and stem-cell therapies.
Dr. Ross Wilkins, the Founder and President of The Limb Preservation Foundation, and Dr. Stephen Withrow, a veterinarian, came up with the idea for the chair to advance research in sarcoma and musculoskeletal diseases. The Limb Preservation Foundation began raising funds towards the $3 million endowment. AlloSource pledged the lead gift and additional financial support came from the McDonnell Family Foundation, the Ferguson Family and many generous supporters of The Limb Preservation Foundation.
“Ten years ago, nobody had the slightest idea that you could transplant muscle,” said Dr. Withrow. “That wasn’t part of the scheme that we did. We transplanted bone, tendons, ligaments, cartilage. But now, any tissue, and almost any organ, is possible to move from patient to patient effectively – legs, hands, faces, nothing’s impossible.”
Continue reading about this amazing milestone here.
Zion Harvey’s childhood came to a halt when he faced a devastating infection resulting in the amputation of his hands and feet when he was just two years old.
Now eight years old, he has the chance to be a kid again after receiving a double hand transplant in a groundbreaking surgery performed this month at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Zion is currently recovering and is looking forward to the little things, like holding his little sister and playing on the playground.
“I hoped for somebody to ask me do I want a hand transplant and it came true,” Zion said.
Continue reading this incredible story here.
After Katie McDevitt passed away in 1980, her family knew they wouldn’t have a traditional funeral. Katie left her body to science, hoping to help advance medical research in any way she could.
Her family was astonished when they recently learned just how much their mother contributed. Katie’s gift, along with gifts from 29 other donors, were featured in a landmark anatomy textbook that thousands of medical students have studied and still use today.
“I was elated,” her daughter, Kate, said. “My father said it wasn’t surprising because of our mother’s generous heart. My mother was that loving, spiritual, faithful, wonderful person who served others, who was always concerned with the needs of others. She was 39 years old and bent on making a difference, and that’s why it made sense that she wanted to give her body to medicine.”
Continue reading this incredible story here.
After an aggressive infection, Will Lautzenheiser lost all four limbs. Though he was devastated by the loss, he was determined to accept his new reality and move on with his life. His motto became “figure it out.”
When a doctor approached Lautzenheiser about the possibility of a double arm transplant, he weighed the pros and cons of the extensive procedure. In October of 2014, he endured a nine hour surgery and became one of the few double arm transplant recipients in the country.
He recently shared an update on his progress and how grateful he is to the donor and donor family who made it all possible.
“This is an individual who has a family who is grieving and all I can hope for is that they will consider this a way for their loved one to make a huge difference for me.”
A Congolese-Belgian woman made history by becoming the first woman to deliver a baby following a transplant of her own ovarian tissue.
When the woman was 11, she was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia, which required chemotherapy. In an effort to give her a chance to eventually have a family, doctors removed the woman’s right ovary when she was 13 and froze fragments of the tissue.
Years later, doctors transplanted the thawed tissue and the woman became pregnant. In November 2014, she delivered a healthy baby boy.
Continue reading this incredible story here.
Two families forever changed by horrible accidents recently met to see firsthand the incredible possibilities of donation.
After a shotgun accident disfigured Richard Norris’ face, he became depressed and reclusive. He endured surgery after surgery, each an attempt to give him a chance at a normal life. Finally, one surgery offered him some hope, and it happened because of the generosity of strangers.
Joshua Aversano’s family was devastated when the 21-year-old died after a traffic accident, but they made the brave choice to donate Joshua’s face. During a 36-hour-long surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center, 150 doctors and nurses honored Joshua’s gift and helped give Richard new hope.
Joshua’s sister, Rebekah, recently had the opportunity to meet Richard and see for herself how her brother lives on through donation.
Today marks the 8th annual Healthcare Decisions Day, a national initiative to encourage advance care planning.
For many people, a conversation about death might seem uncomfortable or daunting, but having those discussions with your family can help to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled. Today’s observance also promotes an open dialogue between patients and their healthcare providers to foster the important conversations about advance care planning.
One of the ways to start this discussion with your friends and family is to talk about organ, eye and tissue donation. You can make your wishes known by registering as a donor here.
A near-fatal infection robbed Will Lautzenheiser of his arms and legs, but not his sense of humor.
Despite facing a grave medical ordeal, the filmmaker and teacher maintained his trademark wit and found healing in laughter.
In late 2014, he received a double arm transplant. Thanks to a generous donor, Will is able to begin a new chapter in his life. Here & Now’s Robin Young caught up with Will and his twin brother, Tom, about the transplant and his new possibilities.
Continue reading this story and listen to the interview here.
Check out this great story about Dr. Ron Hugate, a surgeon who works with Colorado Limb Consultants at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, Colorado. The clinic has treated over 10,000 patients with trauma, infection, bone and soft tissue tumors and other diseases that jeopardize limbs.
Dr. Hugate gets a surprise visit from two former patients during his interview – watch the uplifting moment in the video below.
Today we recognize the third annual BRA Day, an initiative promoting education, awareness and access regarding post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.
Advances in technology and medicine provide new possibilities for women undergoing breast reconstruction surgery – one of those options is made possible by donated human tissue.
Specifically, AlloSource’s AlloMend® ADM, created from donated human dermal tissue processed to remove viable cells and cellular elements, is an allograft that has been used in breast reconstruction procedures. For some women opting for a reconstruction using implants, the tissue provides support for a breast implant. Furthermore, the soft tissue provides a scaffold for the patient’s cells to repopulate and begin the revascularization and remodeling process.
The Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal estimates that over 56 percent of prosthetic-based breast reconstruction procedures may now use acellular dermal matrix.
As we honor BRA day, we also honor the generous donors who provided tissue used in procedures that help women enhance their confidence and self-image.
Limb Preservation Foundation Announces the Completion of Funding For a University Chair at Colorado State University, Led By AlloSource®, To Support Pediatric and Extremity Bone Cancer Research | October 9, 2014
The Limb Preservation Foundation has announced the completion of funding for the Ross M. Wilkins, M.D. Limb Preservation University Chair in Musculoskeletal Biology and Oncology at the Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center. AlloSource, one of the nation’s largest providers of skin, bone and soft tissue allografts for use in surgical procedures, and the world’s largest processor of cellular bone allografts, pledged the lead gift to the University Chair. Additional financial support for the position comes from the McDonnell Family Foundation, the Ferguson Family and many generous supporters of The Limb Preservation Foundation. Colorado State University matched each dollar raised to fund this new position. The University Chair will provide for a scientific leader in musculoskeletal biology who will work with researchers at Colorado State University and scientists from around the globe to advance research in current and challenging issues surrounding limb preservation.
Continue reading about the University Chair here.
A woman in Sweden who received a womb transplant delivered Vincent, the first baby born after this pioneering procedure.
Earlier this year, doctors performed womb transplants on nine women with the hope that they would become pregnant. Women in the study, mostly in their 30s, were born without a uterus or had it removed due to illness. The majority of the wombs were donated by the recipients’ mothers. Two other women in the study are pregnant and expected to deliver soon.
Doctors and researchers involved in the study now have evidence that uterine transplantation could be a potential treatment for infertility.
Read more about Vincent and this exciting work here.
Richard Mangino’s life changed drastically when he lost all four limbs from a bloodstream infection. He was no longer able to play music or toss a football with his grandchildren – until a history-making double hand transplant gave him new hope.
Nearly three years after the surgery, Mangino is making music again. He has returned to playing piano and soon hopes to play guitar. He is grateful for the transplant that made his return possible, and looks forward to his new possibilities.
Watch Richard’s touching story below.
A study of Canadian physicians revealed that doctors are more likely than the public to register as donors. The study helps dispel myths surrounding donation and shows that doctors are confident in the system.
The results showed that 43 percent of doctors were registered donors, compared to 24 percent of the general public in Ontario. Authors of the study hope the results will generate discussion and awareness about donation and transplantation.
To read more about the study, click here.
Richard Norris’ incredible journey from recluse to GQ Magazine cover model has lasted almost 20 years. Thanks to a revolutionary face transplant, Norris has returned to a somewhat normal life and shared his story with GQ.
After a shotgun accident in 1997 left his face disfigured, Norris avoided going out in public for fear of the reactions to his face. Several operations could not remedy all of the damage, and it became clear that a drastic solution was his only hope.
In 2012, Norris underwent the most extensive face transplant surgery ever performed. 150 doctors and nurses at the University of Maryland Medical Center assisted with the 36-hour-long surgery. Norris knew the surgery carried only a 50% chance of survival, but he was willing to take the risk.
Read more about Richard Norris here.
The University of Iowa and the Iowa Lions Eye Bank work together to ensure donated eye tissue, if not used for transplantation, provides invaluable insight for researchers looking into common and rare eye diseases.
Donated tissue is crucial to the work of the research team because the human eye is unique, and therefore not easily replicated in animal models. The researchers study donated eyes and eye tissue to better understand macular degeneration, stem cells and the impact of certain diseases on different areas of the eye. The work of the University of Iowa and the Iowa Lions Eye Bank highlights one of the many ways donated tissue plays a role in scientific advancements.
Read more about the University of Iowa’s work with donated tissue here.
Four organ procurement organizations, Donor Alliance (Denver), Mid-America Transplant Services (St. Louis), Gift of Life (Ann Arbor), and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (Pittsburgh), have opened separate recovery centers to increase efficiency and lower the cost of the complex donation process.
Staff members from the organ procurement organization (OPO) will transport the donor to the OPO’s surgical suite to perform the organ recovery, as opposed to waiting for an available operating room at a hospital. A separate recovery center frees up hospital space and personnel for emergencies and critical care.
Surgeons travel to the recovery center to recover the organs and then take them to transplant hospitals for placement. Mid-America Transplant Services reports that processing a donor at their own facility costs between 45% and 50% less than using the donor hospital.
The new recovery centers allow donor families to start the funeral process earlier and several OPOs offer donor family waiting rooms so families can be with their loved one longer.
Read more about this innovative way to honor the gift of donation here.
Traci Graf worked as a transplant coordinator for two and a half years, but her experiences in the field will stay with her for the rest of her life. Transplant coordinators work in a medically complex and emotionally challenging field where they balance the needs of the patient, patient’s family, medical team and potential recipients.
The long hours and stress caused Traci to switch to a nursing career, but her passion for the transplantation industry is unchanged. Traci saw firsthand the heart-wrenching decisions made by donor families forced to say goodbye to a loved one. She also witnessed the joy of patients given another chance at life thanks to a donor. She details her experience in a new book titled Gift of Life: Behind the Scenes of Donor Organ Retrieval.
She discussed her former job and why she felt compelled to write a book here.
Professor Howard Green: Pushing the boundaries of regenerative medicine since 1983 | October 23, 2013
Harvard Medical School professor Howard Green is an innovator and pioneer. In 1983, he changed the culture and direction of burn treatment and skin transplantation and has since, positively affected countless people’s lives.
Professor Green was able to harness the power of stem cells and developed the first therapeutic use of cells grown in a lab providing hope and relief for severe burn victims.
After realizing the importance and magnitude of his research, Professor Green responded by founding Biosurface Technology to handle the commercialization of the process intending to maximize the reach of his life-changing discovery.
Professor Green’s story is truly an inspiration, read the full Harvard Gazette article HERE.
A common myth about donation is that if you have a history of medical illness, you cannot be a donor.
Fact: At the time of death, the team that coordinates donation will review medical and social histories. Many diseases that were considered to exclude organ donation are no longer considered a barrier. Examples include hepatitis and diabetes.