UNOS honors the life and leadership of James Gleason, a long-term heart recipient and a tireless advocate for the needs and interests of transplant recipients and donor family members.
Three months after his heart transplant in 1994, Gleason returned to his career in information technology. He retired in 2005 as a technology manager at Unisys Corp. in Pennsylvania. His wife Pam is a donor mother, giving both of them unique insight into the full range of personal experience with organ donation and transplantation.
Gleason boundlessly fulfilled opportunities to serve transplant patients and donor families and to encourage clinicians and the public to understand their experiences. He served more than 20 years on the board of Transplant Recipients International Organization (TRIO), including its presidency. He also served in leadership positions with Second Chance, a heart transplant support group, and Help Hope Live, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds to defray patients’ medical bills and expenses. He and his wife were volunteers with Gift of Life and gave hundreds of presentations nationwide to many public and clinical audiences.
His volunteer service with UNOS and the OPTN spanned multiple responsibilities over a 16-year period. He served two terms on the Board of Directors, as well as chairing the UNOS Information Technology Advisory Committee and serving on the Executive, Finance, Membership and Professional Standards, Patient Affairs, Thoracic Organ Transplantation, and UNOS Corporate Affairs Committees.
In the process, he established deep and lasting relationships with many volunteer leaders and UNOS staff members. “Jim was a good friend to many of us, always dispensing advice with a smile,” observed Brian Shepard, CEO of UNOS. Gleason was honored in 2019 with UNOS’ National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence.
Gleason viewed all of his efforts as a means of paying forward the health and the life lessons afforded him by his transplant. In a statement accompanying his Board service, he remarked, “I continue dedicating my heart and life in gratitude to Roberto, my donor, and the many medical and OPO professionals who made possible this lifesaving gift that has allowed me to enjoy an active and passionate career and family life these many years.“