FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Jenny Daigle
AOPO MEDIA CONTACT
AOPO Recognizes Contributions to Excellence in Organ Procurement and Transplantation at 2022 Annual Meeting
McLean, VA. (June 15, 2022) – At its Annual Meeting today, the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) announced the award winners who have contributed significantly to the organ procurement organization (OPO) community. These winners have helped to advance AOPO’s vision of a day when every donation opportunity results in lives saved.
AOPO Lifetime Achievement Award
Winners: Anne Kowalczyk, Tracy Schmidt, Dr. Anthony D’Alessandro
The award is given to individuals employed by or affiliated with an OPO who have contributed substantially to the goals and ideals in the field of organ donation. Their contributions have been consistently sustained over at least two decades of service with 10 years in senior OPO leadership and involvement with AOPO.
Anne Kowalczyk, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Gift of Life Michigan
In her more than three decades working with and overseeing finances at Gift of Life Michigan, Kowalczyk has been the trusted voice of fiscal responsibility. In her 34 years, Kowalczyk has played an integral role in Gift of Life Michigan’s success and witnessed tremendous growth in its staff and its budget from six figures to over $100 million this year. Because of her expertise and attention to detail, the organization’s financial health grew substantially over the year and enabled it to build a surgical center and Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which were crucial to helping further secure its ability to save and transform lives. Her leadership at Gift of Life Michigan also spilled over into her work nationally with AOPO. She served as Vice Chair and Chair of the Financial Management Council from 2003-2005, participated in numerous special projects and was a helpful voice and source of information to members and new OPO CFOs.
Tracy Schmidt, President/CEO, DonorConnect
Tracy C. Schmidt has led DonorConnect as President/CEO since April 1993. He is credited for Implementing one of the first fully integrated donor registries in the U.S. for Utah and Idaho and organizing a community-based good Samaritan living kidney program. He also was key to passing legislation to support organ donation. With AOPO, he served as Secretary/Treasurer from 2002-2003 and President-Elect/President from 2005-2007. He also was on the Board of Trustees for the United Network of Organ Sharing from 2007-2008 and served in numerous other positions within the health and organ donation community. Under Schmidt’s guidance, DonnorConnect was recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services as one of the top performing OPOs in the nation in both organ and tissue donation from 2003-2013 and today continues to be one of the highest performing OPOs in the country.
Dr. Anthony D’Alessandro, Medical Director, UW Organ & Tissue Donation (OTD)
Dr. D’Alessandro has had an impactful history with organ donation that spans nearly 40 years. Dr. D’Alessandro has served as the Medical Director for UW OTD since 2000, functioning concurrently as the Executive Director from 2000-2008. During this time, he also was the Director of the UW Health Pediatric Liver Transplant Program, beginning in 2005; the Director of the UW Health Pediatric Kidney Transplantation Program since 2011, and has served as the Mark A. Fischer Professor of Surgery since 2016. Dr. D’Alessandro’s leadership resulted in UW OTD consistently being recognized as a national top performer in organ donation, especially in the development and advancement of Donation after Circulatory Determination of Death (DCDD) utilization. Dr. D’Alessandro has been a critical member of nearly all formative national committees and councils that develop and advance the goals and ideals of organ donation. At AOPO, he served as Primary External Liaison to the American Society of Anesthesiology; on the AOPO Tissue Council; and numerous United Network of Organ Sharing/Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network committees. During his time as Executive Director, the UW OTD was recognized as a Best Practice Site by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Organ Donation & Transplantation Breakthrough Collaboratives and was recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services for consistently leading the nation in donation after cardiac death, conversion rates, and consent rates.
Dr. D’Alessandro’s research has been published extensively and he has been key to enacting laws in Wisconsin that support donation, including making a statewide donation registry possible.
AOPO/National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) Empowering Research & Discovery Award
Winner: Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC)
This award recognizes an OPO committed to advancing research. Since its inception in 1986, WRTC has championed and facilitated research. WRTC started partnering with NDRI, in addition to other researchers, in the early 1990s. Thanks to continual growth and expansion over time, WRTC placed approximately 900 organs for research from 2011-2019. During that same time period, WRTC experienced more than 325% growth in the number of donors who provided various tissue types for research. From 2011-2019 of WRTC’s authorized donors, 83% also provided authorization for research.
While in 2020, WRTC’s placement of organs for research was impacted by the pandemic, 2021 saw an increase in the placement of organs for research thanks to the current research entities being able to accept organs again and WRTC partnering with several new research partners to continue to maximize the gift.
The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) is the not-for-profit trade association leading the nation’s organ donation community to save and improve lives through organ, eye, and tissue donation. Founded in 1984, AOPO advances organ donation and transplantation by driving continual improvement of the donation process, collaborating with stakeholders, and sharing successful practices with their OPO members. The vision of AOPO is to pursue the day when every donation opportunity results in lives saved. For more information, please visit www.aopo.org.