It is with a very heavy heart that I write this President’s Message. Regrettably, TSI will be terminating its operation. For more than 15 years, we have provided educational programs free of charge. Although we are still committed to our mission, the economic climate makes our present method impossible. With great pride, I look back and see nothing but hard work, dedication and friendships I will always cherish.
I remember vividly getting together with Pete Radigan, Donald Arthur and Ed Masol while we were awaiting our heart transplants. Pete was very motivated about getting the word out about the importance of organ and tissue donation. We all felt the same way. Pete was transplanted a year after the three of us and during that span of time I met Jack and Arlene Locicero, a donor family. I asked if Jack would speak with me and he agreed. Jack and Arlene were then and remain very compelling speakers. So when Pete was released from the hospital, he was the catalyst that got the operation started.
We began by talking about going to OPO’s and assisting them in training their volunteers. Ed’s wife, Pat Melvin, who also was a member of a donor family, joined the team and became our secretary.
Following our incorporation, we needed a lawyer. I just happened to have an attorney having concluded my case against a health insurance company, following my heart transplant. I thought very highly of, Lynn Muller, RN, Esq. Lynn turned out not only our legal advisor, but also one of our crew, who met monthly and much of her work was done pro bono. Now with all the pieces in place, we were ready to go.
I remember the Sharing Network of N.J. first accepting our program, as raw as it was at the time. We will always be grateful to them for the opportunity. We then went to the Gift of Life of Michigan and since then we have been to a total of 40 OPO’s, with many of them being frequent visits over the years. On behalf of TSI, I would like to personally thank each and every OPO we have visited, that took the time to prepare for our seminars, while treating us like we were part of their family. We have been fortunate to work with great colleagues in all aspects of the organ and tissue transplant community and made so many close friends during these years of providing education support. This fine group includes both staff members, professionals, and countless volunteers as well; this was our reward.
During the past 15 years, there has been minimal turnover in personnel. From the original members, Jack & Arlene Locicero, Donald Arthur and I remain on the Board of Trustees along with Lynn as our attorney. Steve Taibbi, who has been with TSI for 12 years, is our current VP, while Lynn Allred, who has been with us for 5 years, is our present treasurer. David Lively, who we like to call our southern member (he’s from Tennessee and talks funny), rounds out the Board. Unfortunately, we lost Ed Masol, a heart transplant recipient and Peter Schmidt, a lung transplant recipient, and miss them dearly. Pat Melvin and Pete Radigan were charter members, who have moved on. Cathy Gibson, Wesley Merritt, Gary Carbonello and Rich Mullane have all left the board in past years for various reasons.
Throughout the years great sacrifices were made by these members, to assure that obligations were met. I might say to one of the members I need you to be in Arkansas on a certain day because I can’t make it and without hesitation, schedules were changed to make it happen. They gave up not only their time, but put forth a real passion and dedication for what they were doing. I am proud to have served with them as colleagues and associates, but even more proud to called them my friends.
Last but not least, I would like to thank our friends at AlloSource for their support throughout the years. Without them, we couldn’t have reached as many people or carried the message to so many. AlloSource’s entire organization is truly dedicated to helping people through tissue donation. Believe me; they help modern miracles happen every day with their true commitment.
Guys, it’s been a great ride, but it’s not over yet. TSI presentations can still be made available at the requester’s expense. Feel free to contact me, if you find your organization needs and wants our services. I still plan on speaking and volunteering, as do other Board members. If you need to contact me feel free to do so.
Thanks again for everything!