Anthony D’Alessandro, MD, Professor of Surgery and interim chair of the Division of Transplantation has been named this year’s recipient of the George Watts Annual Civic Heroism Award. Dr. D’Alessandro was nominated by Donate Life Wisconsin on behalf of his leadership in both state and national organ donation improvement initiatives as well as his achievements and expertise in the field of transplantation.
Dr. D’Alessandro’s contributions to the field of transplantation are numerous. He collaborated with former Governor Tommy Thompson to form the nation-wide Health and Human Services (HRSA) organ donation collaborative to increase organ donation nationally, and served as Co-chair of the organization.
He has served as Executive Director of the UW Health Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) for the last 10 years. The UW OPO is consistently ranked in the top three OPOs in the United States. During his tenure as Executive Director, his leadership of the OPO team worked to increase the number of donors, improve donation education in Wisconsin and to create protocols for donor management that are utilized by OPOs around the world. The team grew from a staff of five to more than 30 people during that time period. He worked to get the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act passed in Wisconsin, which allowed for the creation of the State of Wisconsin Donor Registry. The registry opened on March 29, 2010 and to-date more than 16,000 people have registered.
Dr. D’Alessandro is internationally renown for his work on Donation After Cardiac Death (DCD). He established protocols that are used in OPOs around the world, and he is frequently invited to speak and train at other programs. The UW OPO typically has one of the highest rates of DCD in the nation. He also established the UW Intestinal Transplant Program in 1988 and performed UW’s first laparoscopic donor nephrectomy in 2000.
Each year the board of George Watts chooses a cause and raises money based on private contributions, as well as a portion of sales for the month before the awards ceremony, culminating in an invitation-only gala ceremony. Community leaders, members of Donate Life Wisconsin and George Watts employees will be present when Dr. D’Alessandro accepts the award from Lord Wedgwood, family representative for the famed Wedgwood Brand, at their annual event in Milwaukee on October 1. Previous winners include Martin F. Stein, Tommy Thompson, Dr. Kurt Bauer, Rabbi Francis and Barry Silberg.
Congratulations Dr. D’Alessandro!