Some months ago my son, Michael, wrote to say his employer, Merck, was sponsoring an essay contest in support of community organizations that have made a difference in their employees’ lives.

In response, Mike submitted the following:

Through the gift of organ donation my father’s life was saved when he received a donated heart on October 19th, 1994. He had been given less than two years to live unless somebody died and offered their heart to save a stranger’s life through this anonymous process. The local organization here in the Philadelphia area is the Gift of Life Donor Program, a nonprofit organ procurement organization that works under the regulation of  the US government to ensure fair allocation of scarce organs. With over 107,000 patients currently waiting for life-saving organ transplant there are never enough donations to meet that need. The Gift of Life Donor Program provides family support at the time of tragedy and raises awareness within the public so that people say yes to organ donation.

Because of their fine work, my father lived to celebrate not only my wedding but today, over 16 years later,  enjoys sharing life with my three children, grandchildren that he would never have seen where it not for this life-saving gift. One has only to see the sparkle in their eyes when he is around to play with them whether it be lying on the floor watching electric trains under the Christmas tree or splashing with glee in the backyard swimming pool. Through the miracle of transplantation and the process that the organ procurement organization supports we are able to enjoy family moments that were almost missed due to a failing heart those 16 years ago. Today that organization is building a much-needed transplant family house that will be like a Ronald McDonald House for up to 30 families while they wait for their loved one to receive their own life-saving organ transplant. It would truly be a blessing to have this award in my father’s honor go towards making that house a reality, helping other families experience the same success we have.

When the winners were announced his entry was among them, resulting in a $1,000 contribution to that organization, in his case, the Gift of Life Donor Program in Philadelphia.  Mike made a grand presentation event out of that award, shown in this photo presenting that $1,000 to Howard Nathan, CEO and Sara Cohen, in support of their soon to open Family Transplant House.


Essay award presentation to Gift of Life

proud dad, Mike, Howard and Sara (l to r)