The Ultimate Gift

One UPSer explains how his personal experience with organ and tissue donation turned into a professional passion.

Chris Conrad | UPS

My father was 67 when he passed away suddenly from cardiac arrest in 2009. He was healthy and had no apparent health issues so the news of his passing came as quite a shock to our family.

We experienced many dark days grieving and struggling to make sense of it all … that is, until the letter arrived.

My dad, Julian Conrad, was an organ donor, the letter explained, and his “gift” had blessed a family. Receiving a thank-you letter from the recipient family gave us great comfort, peace and pride. It became a shining light in our darkness.

My father lived a selfless life, sacrificing himself for the good of others. It was fitting that he would do the same in death.

Our family had already experienced the gift of being a recipient family. Two years earlier, my uncle received a lung transplant, giving him a second chance at life.

After my father’s passing, I saw the power of this ultimate gift – yet again.

A new passion

Shortly after my father’s death, I began working closely with tissue bank and recovery partners as part of the UPS Express Critical Healthcare team.

This became my new passion.

Our team provides time-critical logistics for tissue banks and families that recently lost a loved one. I learned more about the process of organ and tissue donation and the amazing work done by industry professionals, as well as the business perspective.

The UPS Express Critical Healthcare team is a group of highly trained coordinators that utilizes multiple modes of transportation to meet the specific needs of our clients.

Options include moving donated tissue by next flight out, blending specialty courier pickup with small package services or expanding pick-up windows for evening recoveries, using UPS aircraft when commercial routes are unavailable.

In addition to moving live organs and tissue, UPS Express Critical handles life science items such as biological specimens and clinical trials.

We partner with and create efficiencies for organizations such as labs, contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) and clinical research organizations (CROs) to provide temperature-controlled logistics, real-time monitoring, proactive communication, re-icing and other capabilities that are critical to healthcare and life science supply chains.

We have one mission: to deliver each gift on time, every time.

Lessons learned 

For many members of our growing team, this cause is personal. UPS Healthcare Solutions Manager Brian Beam lost his dad, who was waiting for an organ transplant.

Another team member received an allograft of gum tissue, a colleague’s husband received double corneal transplants and two of our team members donated a kidney to a family member. Just about every time we talk to UPSers about this team and the importance of organ and tissue donation, someone walks up afterward to share similar stories.

There is no room for error in what we do. The stakes could not be higher, and every second counts:

  • 118,000 people are waiting for life-saving organ transplants.
  • Every 10 minutes, another person is added to the national transplant waiting list.
  • 8,000 people die each year in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant.
  • That’s 22 deaths a day.

On the donor side, remember that:

  • One donor can save up to eight lives.
  • Donated corneas can restore eyesight for two people.
  • One organ, eye and tissue donor can save and heal 75 people.

Rewarding service

The life sciences industry has unique challenges: Transporting life-saving and life-enhancing allografts to a bank requires lightning-fast response times to and from the recovery location.

Such efforts also need the shortest possible time in transit, validation of hours in transit and customer service professionals who understand the honor and responsibility that come with transporting a gift.

All tissue banks have specific needs. Recovery partners go through a mentally, emotionally and physically demanding procedure – often times in the middle of the night. The last thing they want to do is wait for hours to turn over a gift to our courier. Speed matters.

And secondly, from a logistics perspective, you must validate time in transit versus time of death to avoid potential expiration issues.

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There is no room for error in what we do. The stakes could not be higher, and every second counts.

We are methodical in our approach, taking every small detail into account and utilizing our expertise in time-critical logistics to anticipate any potential service issue. We want our clients to be comfortable and confident in how we handle the gift throughout transport.

This is an extraordinary commitment, one that requires passion, professionalism and recognition of the sacrifice donors make every single day. We are humbled to help and support these life sciences professionals and those they serve. There is nothing more rewarding than finding solutions that will save and heal lives.

This is personal for me. If I had to describe my dad in two words, it would be humble and servant.

So if I can help the life science community, even in a small way, I’m walking in the footsteps of my hero. His path will guide me for the rest of my life. goldbrown2

For more information, please visit www.upsexpresscritical.com/cfw/ and www.donatelife.net.

Click here to read “Donate Life,” the first in the organ donation series.

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Chris Conrad is the Director of Sales for UPS Express Critical, based in Pittsburgh. A 13-year employee of UPS, Chris has 20 years of experience serving clients requiring time-critical logistics.

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