New LifeGift Building

The Houston-based organ donation agency LifeGift will cut the ribbon tomorrow at its new and larger building near the Texas Medical Center. This new facility is almost unique in the world of organ donation, as Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

For openers, the new building makes LifeGift the only complete stand-alone organ and tissue recovery agency in Texas, and one of less than a dozen of its kind nationwide. CEO Sam Holtzman says LifeGift now has its own operating rooms for organ and tissue recovery, and they no longer send recovery teams out to hospitals in 30 counties where donors have passed away.

"What we can do is simply have those donors transported to our facilities here. We have a morgue facility here, and we have two operating rooms, and a third one if we need it."

Holtzman says time is critical in recovering tissue and organs. They have to move fast after a donor passes away.

"We have about 24 hours from the time a person passes away to the time their tissue has to be recovered, and if it's not recovered within that 24 hour period then we can't use the tissue. So the timing of the recovery is extremely critical to us."

Holtzman says there's no doubt that this new facility, and bringing donors to LifeGift, means more tissue and organs will be recovered and thousands more lives will be saved.

"We know for a fact that we lose about ten percent of the tissue donors that we have family consent for, somebody who has agreed to be a donor and they are medically suited to be a donor. About ten percent of those cases we lose simply because we run out of time."

Holtzman says at any given time there are about a hundred thousand people on the national waiting list for an organ or tissue transplant. Two to three thousand are in LifeGift's Houston service area alone. The new LifeGift building also houses the agency's corporate offices, an education and career center, and there are plans for a donor memorial garden. There's more information about LifeGift on our website KUHF dot org. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.