News and Updates

Donate Life America Announces 2015 James S. Wolf, M.D., Courage Award Winner

RICHMOND, October 19, 2015 – Donate Life America (DLA), a national non-profit organization committed to increasing the number of donated organs, eyes and tissue available to save and heal lives, while continuing to develop a culture where donation is embraced as a fundamental human responsibility, will present David Fleming, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine, with the James S. Wolf, M.D., Courage Award tomorrow at DLA’s annual meeting in New Orleans, LA.

The James S. Wolf, M.D., Courage Award is named in honor of the transplant surgeon pioneer who founded the Coalition on Donation (now Donate Life America). The award is presented annually to an individual outside the professional donation and transplantation community, who has played a significant national role in helping to educate the public about organ, eye and tissue donation and promoting donor registration.

ESPN The Magazine writer David Fleming’s interest in tissue donation was piqued with a single phrase: “cadaver tissue.” Dave wondered what it meant. After some initial research, he called AlloSource, a tissue bank in Centennial, Colorado, to see if he could learn more about tissue donation. He went above and beyond, asking questions and learning about a very complex process. His experience is detailed in his online and print piece, “Carson Palmer’s Lasting Connection,” featured in ESPN The Magazine, one of the most popular magazines in the U.S. – read by 15 million people per issue.

Dave also flew to Illinois to further his understanding of the organ and tissue procurement side of donation. He met with Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, a donor family and a tissue recipient so he could see firsthand how donation affects people on both sides of this meaningful process. These meetings informed a new piece of the story, “Tissue Donation is the Ultimate Gift,” an article that ran online and was very positively received. Many people commented on both articles that they would like to see more pieces like these from ESPN and that the story was important and exceptionally well told.

The social media reach of Dave’s article, “Carson Palmer’s Lasting Connection,” included 24,000 shares and over 180 comments, for example:

“Thank you for running this story, I’m a kidney transplant recipient and without a transplant would probably not be here at all. The public needs to hear these stories so they will consider becoming a donor. It’s the greatest gift you can give or leave when you die. You have the power to save someone’s life.”

“Every sports fan, nope make that every human being, ought to make certain that box is checked on your driver’s license. It won’t cost you a thing, and as science progresses more and more people will benefit, from a single donor. I’ve also had multiple knee surgeries, and as a USC alum I’ve always been a fan of CP. Big thanks to Mrs. Hyde for her most gracious gift. I’d like to think a part Julie lives on, in Carson and those touched by your kindness.”

Dave has now encouraged those inside and outside the sports industry to stop using outdated terminology and to use “donor tissue” instead – language that honors and respects the gift given by the donor and donor family.

Dave educated a new audience about donation, worked tirelessly to ensure this story would reach as many people as possible. For his outreach and commitment to educate the public about organ, eye and tissue donation, DLA is honored to present David Fleming with this year’s James S. Wolf, M.D., Courage Award.