Friday, April 2, 2010

A life-saving gift

Aprilis National Donate Life Month

HEALING HEARTS: A few of Grossman's caregivers, from left, back row, Thomas MacGillivray, MD, of Cardiothoracic Surgery; Marc Jay Semigran, MD, of the Cardiac Transplant/Heart Failure Program. Middle row, Sally Keck, RN, of the Division of Cardiology; Coral Haggan, RN, BSN, of the Cardiac Transplant/Heart Failure Program; William G. Dec Jr, MD, of the Division of Cardiology. Center, front, Grossman

IN THE UNITED STATES ALONE, there are more than 100,000 candidates on the United Network for Organ Sharing organ and tissue waiting list. Those on this list, and their loved ones, every day await the news that a generous soul has helped to change – and in many instances to save – their life by acting as an organ or tissue donor.


As one of the only transplant centers in the region to offer every type of organ transplant available for adult patients, the MGH Transplant Center cares for patients requiring transplantation from across the globe, including those who require multiple organ transplants and advanced care options. For nearly 30 years, the center has helped save the lives of thousands of patients because of the availability of organs and tissues.

Fifty-two-year-old Alan D. Grossman, PhD, professor of Biology at MIT, is grateful for the care and attention he received from the doctors and nurses at the MGH. He is thankful, too, to his donor and his or her family for having enabled him to live today.

"In 2004, my heart was not functioning," he says. "Not only did I need a combination defibrillator-pacemaker, but I also was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease called cardiac sarcoidosis. At the end of 2005, I spent nearly six months at the MGH on Ellison 9 and 10. The nurses, doctors and staff were wonderful, but I wanted to rejoin my family. On May 4, 2006, my life changed completely when I received a heart transplant. I recognize that a tragedy for someone else's family, their decision to donate organs and the successful transplant have given me back to my family. I have my life back, and I owe so much to the donor and his or her family and loved ones. My family and I are extremely grateful to them for their generous gift of life."

Without the organ donation, Grossman likely would not be alive today to do the things he loves: tossing a baseball with his son, playing tennis with his family, teaching and running his research lab, and volunteering for the New England Organ Bank (NEOB).

"I'm alive today because of organ donation. Moreover, my family is intact," he says.

April is National Donate Life Month, and the MGH Transplant Center and NEOB encourage individuals to consider registering as an organ donor. For more information or to register, call NEOB at 800-446-6362 or visit

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