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Houston-Based LifeGift Becomes State's Only Stand-Alone Organ and Tissue Recovery Agency

HOUSTON, April 3, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- History takes place again in the Texas Medical Center as Houston-based LifeGift becomes the state's only organ and tissue recovery agency -- and one of a handful in the nation -- with its own stand-alone facility with built-in operating suites. The work in that facility is expected to help save the lives of thousands more men, women and children awaiting transplants.

"This building will provide us to the opportunity serve the community better," stated Sam Holtzman, LifeGift president and chief executive officer. "By improving response time and recovering more donations, we can greater address 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 third suite in future plans. Holtzman expects that up to 10 percent more tissue could be recovered annually. Last year, LifeGift recovered more than 1,600 donations of tissue -- which became thousands of tissue grafts.

While April 3 was its ceremonial opening, LifeGift's President and Chief Executive Officer Sam Holtzman got the green light for move-in from contractor Fretz Construction in early March. The first employees reported to work on March 5, six months after the company broke ground on land at 2510 Westridge Street, west of Reliant Park, and formerly the campus of St. Catherine's Montessori School.

Because the school's building was structurally sound, it became the shell for LifeGift's new 26,000 square-foot corporate headquarters and Southeast Region operations. Added to the original edifice is a key element -- a 6,000-square foot blue glass addition which houses a training/education center, a donor family consultation area, a conference room with multi-media capabilities 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 recoveries occurring in areas across Southeast Texas," Holtzman stated. "If an individual has registered as a donor or a family has said 'yes' to donation, we believe it is our job to honor their wishes. Now, we will be better able to succeed every time."

Jessica Leibold, LifeGift's managing director for facilities, managed all aspects of the construction. She collaborated with architects Bill Burwell and Michael Morton, coordinated the green spaces with landscape designer Lauren Griffith, and worked with the City of Houston and others on permits, culminating with building construction with Bob Fretz Jr. and Ryan Temple of Fretz Construction.

"The vision of a stand-along facility allowing LifeGift to recover more donations now is a reality," remarked Brenda Lyon, chair of the LifeGift board of directors. "I am honored to serve an organization whose chief purpose is doing all possible to save lives. And knowing this facility will help do that to a greater extent is thrilling."

Celebrating 21 years of saving lives, LifeGift is a not-for-profit organ procurement organization which recovers organs and tissue for individuals needing transplants in 109 Texas counties in Southeast, North and West Texas. To register as an organ and tissue donor or for more information, visit

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