Gift of Life Family House is the fulfillment of Howard Nathan’s 20-year dream for a special “home away from home” for transplant patients and their families.
In 1991, Howard was already a leader in the field of organ donation and transplantation when he personally experienced the challenges of his sister Martha’s need for a liver transplant. He witnessed the generosity of a family who said “yes” to donation so that Martha could have a second chance at life. This personal experience provided a deeper understanding of the obstacles that families encounter when traveling to an unfamiliar setting, often without any caregiver support. Through Howard’s compassion and steadfast belief in the benefits of providing a homelike environment to support families of transplant patients undergoing treatment, he inspired his fellow board members, donor families, contributors, management team and staff to take action and meet this compelling need — and in the summer of 2011 Gift of Life Family House opened.
“I am privileged to lead our Gift of Life Team. Together we have provided world-class services for this community so that thousands received a ‘second chance at life’ due to the generosity of the gifts of others. Family House represents my vision for completing the circle of care for transplant patients and their families… I couldn’t be more humbled and proud.” —Howard
Gift of Life Family House has now been open for over a decade, serving thousands of families undergoing the difficult transplant journey. It is the first of its kind in the nation, serving patients, caregivers, and families from all 7 of the local Philadelphia transplant centers. Since its inception, the Family House has provided over 76,000 nights of care, 277,000 meals and more than $10.8 million in subsidized care.
Howard was appointed executive director of the Transplant Foundation in January 2022, after he retired from his position as president and CEO of Gift of Life Donor Program, Gift of Life Institute, the Transplant Foundation and Gift of Life Family House. The Foundation leads research and education to advance donation and transplantation around the world.
Howard served as president and CEO of Gift of Life Donor Program and its affiliates for 38 years, making him the longest-serving CEO of any organ-procurement organization in the US. Under his leadership, Gift of Life has led the nation in organ and tissue transplantation having coordinated more than 53,500 organ transplants and more than 2 million tissue transplants. Gift of Life Donor Program is the largest organ procurement organization in the country and has coordinated the most organ donors in the nation every year since 2008. In addition Gift of Life has served as an international training and research center for donation and transplantation professionals.
Considered a leading world authority on organ and tissue donation, Howard has contributed greatly to the overall science of organ transplantation and the knowledge of professionals working in this field worldwide. A renowned speaker and the author of over 400 scientific publications on organ procurement, transplantation, and related subjects, Howard’s contributions have greatly enhanced the level of patient care and family services available across the U.S. He has traveled to over 30 countries to share best practices, and has held leadership roles on numerous boards including United Network for Organ Sharing, Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, Donate Life America and International Society for Organ Procurement, among others.
The entire community expresses its sincerest gratitude to Howard for his vision, compassion, and determination in completing the “circle of care” for transplant patients and their families through the Gift of Life Family House.