HOUSTON, April 3, 2008 History takes place again in theTexas Medical Center as Houston-based LifeGift becomes the state's only organand tissue recovery agency -- and one of a handful in the nation -- with itsown stand-alone facility with built-in operating suites. The work in thatfacility is expected to help save the lives of thousands more men, women andchildren awaiting transplants.
"This building will provide us to the opportunity serve the communitybetter," stated Sam Holtzman, LifeGift president and chief executive officer."By improving response time and recovering more donations, we can greateraddress the need and save more lives."
Beginning in May, LifeGift tissue teams will begin recovering bone, skin,heart valves and veins in two state-of-the-art operating rooms, with a thirdsuite in future plans. Holtzman expects that up to 10 percent more tissuecould be recovered annually. Last year, LifeGift recovered more than 1,600donations of tissue -- which became thousands of tissue grafts.
While April 3 was its ceremonial opening, LifeGift's President and ChiefExecutive Officer Sam Holtzman got the green light for move-in from contractorFretz Construction in early March. The first employees reported to work onMarch 5, six months after the company broke ground on land at 2510 WestridgeStreet, west of Reliant Park, and formerly the campus of St. Catherine'sMontessori School.
Because the school's building was structurally sound, it became the shellfor LifeGift's new 26,000 square-foot corporate headquarters and SoutheastRegion operations. Added to the original edifice is a key element -- a6,000-square foot blue glass addition which houses a training/educationcenter, a donor family consultation area, a conference room with multi-mediacapabilities for public education purposes, among others.
"With organ and tissue donation, timing is critical. A case might'time-out' because of availability of operating rooms or multiple recoveriesoccurring in areas across Southeast Texas," Holtzman stated. "If an individualhas registered as a donor or a family has said 'yes' to donation, we believeit is our job to honor their wishes. Now, we will be better able to succeedevery time."
Jessica Leibold, LifeGift's managing director for facilities, managed allaspects of the construction. She collaborated with architects Bill Burwell andMichael Morton, coordinated the green spaces with landscape designer LaurenGriffith, and worked with the City of Houston and others on permits,culminating with building construction with Bob Fretz Jr. and Ryan Temple ofFretz Construction.
"The vision of a stand-along facility allowing LifeGift to recover moredonations now is a reality," remarked Brenda Lyon, chair of the LifeGift boardof directors. "I am honored to serve an organization whose chief purpose isdoing all possible to save lives. And knowing this facility will help do thatto a greater extent is thrilling."
Celebrating 21 years of saving lives, LifeGift is a not-for-profit organprocurement organization which recovers organs and tissue for individualsneeding transplants in 109 Texas counties in Southeast, North and West Texas.To register as an organ and tissue donor or for more information, visithttp://www.lifegift.org.