American Transplant Foundation Hero Awards


It isn’t every day that The Fray plays some songs and gives some personal messages in the middle of a fundraiser.

But then again, it’s not every day that someone decides to donate a kidney to someone they don’t even know.

To that end, about 600 well-heeled guests joined their friend Steve Farber, founder of the American Transplant Foundation, at the Ritz-Carlton Denver Saturday night to celebrate 10 years of success and look to the future to pave the way for more donations, both physical and financial.

The American Transplant Foundation is the only nonprofit in the country that provides financial assistance to the most vulnerable transplant patients and living donors for lost wages and lifesaving medications. American Transplant Foundation reduces the waiting list by maximizing living organ donation, which is the most effective way to fulfill their mission.

The foundation was started by Farber, who was faced with a life-threatening crossroads in 2004 and ultimately received a kidney from his son Gregg. Farber was on hand to receive the Governor’s designation from Lt Governor Donna Lynne proclaiming the day “American Transplant Foundation Day” and welcome this year’s ATF heroes:

  • Transplant Angel Award: Lanie Alford–UTSW, Transplant Coordinator, Dallas, TX and Katie Peoples–St Francis Hospital, Transplant Social Worker, Tulsa, OK;
  • Volunteer of the Decade: Vienna Danna, Age 11, who received her award from Joe King and Isaac Slade of the Fray;
  • How to Save a Life Award: Jose Amezola Beltran, Superior, CO, Eldonna Edwards, San Luis Obispo, CA and David Rochlin, Denver CO;

Also on hand were Miguel Ramirez, who saved his wife’s life by donating his kidney, and his daughter Maria, who eloquently and tearfully told their story to the audience.

ATF has had some major accomplishments, including these milestones:

  • There are 47 states in which American Transplant Foundation supports living donors, transplant patients, and their families.
  • $207.3 million in economic impact has been achieved, thanks to the Foundation’s work since the Patient Assistance Program was founded in 2011. With each patient helped, Medicare saves $462,671 over the course of 10 years.
  • 480 people were taken off the waiting list as a result of the Foundation’s work through the Patient Assistance Program and 1+1=LIFE Mentorship Program since 2011. That is 480 lives saved.

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Circle of Light Photo Display Celebrates the Gift of Sight


Imagine trying to simply tie a shoelace when you see it (and everything else) as only an unrecognizable mass. Then imagine the miraculous results achieved by corneal transplants that allow patients to see. At this year’s Circle of Light reception and photo display, guests could take part in, quite literally, an eye-opening, interactive “corneal blindness experience” to help understand the journey of corneal-transplant patients. Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank (RMLEB) hosted the fundraiser that featured photographs taken by cornea recipients who went from blindness to sight. Their subject matter? The things they are most grateful to see.

Cornea-transplant photographer John and Patsy Capra by John's work "Fish."

Cornea-transplant photographer John and Patsy Capra by John’s work “Fish.”

On Thursday, March 10, almost 200 RMLEB supporters attended the annual reception and photo display held at Space Gallery, beginning with an hour-long VIP champagne soiree. Guests included doctors, sponsors, cornea recipients and donor families—all able to appreciate the artistry and finesse of the photographs, as well as the story of each photographer. The photos were available for purchase throughout the evening as part of the silent auction, which also included travel and entertainment packages, and some winning sports collectibles.

Everyday tasks aren't so easy, as this "corneal blindness experience" guest discovers.

Everyday tasks aren’t so easy, as this “corneal blindness experience” guest discovers.

The exhibit photos were part of the eye bank’s Circle of Light Photo Project, taken by people from all around the state who received cornea transplants from an eye donor in Colorado or Wyoming. Through this project, recipients have a chance to give back, honor their donor and show the world just how big an impact tissue donations can be. All proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, the nonprofit organization responsible for keeping its promise to help others see again through eye, organ and tissue donation.

Cornea transplants are a cure for corneal blindness, which accounts for about 10 percent of all blindness. Each year, approximately 600 people in Colorado and Wyoming receive sight-restorative transplants. In 2015, the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank facilitated the donation and transplantation of corneas from 2,355 eye donors in Colorado and Wyoming—those donations resulted in 2,220 sight-restorative transplants. Since 1982, RMLEB has facilitated over 40,000 transplants.

RMLEB, the recovery agency for donated eye tissue in Colorado and Wyoming, continues to serve eye donors and their families, and provides for sight-saving transplantation locally, nationally and worldwide. For more information, please visit:

American Transplant Foundation Presents Hero Awards


When Steve Farber was 60 years old, his kidneys failed him for the second time in his life. He had a choice: find a kidney, go on dialysis, or die.

In order to find a kidney, he nearly went to a third world country, but miraculously his son Gregg gave him the gift of life by donating his kidney in 2004. These two remarkable individuals were honored Thursday evening at the inaugural Transplant Hero Awards. Also honored were Dr. Laurence Chan and Dr. Igal Kam for the “Patient Advocate Award” and Kaye Basedow, Russ Cupps, Adam Leventhal and Cara Yesawich with the presentation of the “Gift of Life Award.” As Adam so aptly put it in the video presentation of their journeys: “People tell me I was given two kidneys for a reason. Yes– so that one can be given to someone who needs it to stay alive.”

Steve’s journey caused him want to help others; hence he founded the American Transplant Foundation. True to Steve’s nature, he didn’t stop there–he also wrote a book with Harlan Abrahams entitled On the List, advocates for policy and legislative improvements and strives to help and encourage anyone he can.

And thus we are thankful and happy that we can say “Happy Birthday” to Steve, and hundreds of other transplant recipients, because of the miraculous and selfless acts of others.

The mission of the American Transplant Foundation is to save lives by reducing the growing list of women, men, and children who are waiting for a transplant. Since its founding, the Foundation has become the only non-profit in the country that provides financial assistance to the most vulnerable transplant patients and living donors by reimbursing them for lost wages after the surgery, and providing access to lifesaving medications. Through its Patient Assistance Program, ATF supports patients in 32 states with a specific focus on Colorado.