National Foundation for Transplants
Shines Light on Vulnerable Transplant Patients during COVID-19 Pandemic

Fast Facts:

  • National Foundation for Transplants opens response center to help transplant patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The center contains an exclusive article written by two doctors who are also heart transplant recipients. They discuss transplant patients as a vulnerable population, defined by the Center for Disease Control.
  • The transplant community and others can find helpful information and resources to support transplant patients at org/covid-19-response/

Memphis, Tennessee:   Since 1983, the National Foundation for Transplants has assisted thousands of transplant patients and their families. The COVID-19 Pandemic has added a new element to the foundation’s efforts. According to Michelle Gilchrist, Chief Executive Officer for the National Foundation for Transplants, the pandemic has only amplified the needs of transplant patients. “Transplant patients are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their compromised immune systems,” Gilchrist said. “They also face significant financial challenges that can have a direct impact on their health.”

NFT has partnered with experts to shine a light on some of the special challenges transplant patients face in dealing with COVID-19. Dr. Lilian Lam, a microbiologist, and Dr. Alin Gragossian, an emergency medicine resident, are both heart transplant recipients. They have written an exclusive piece for NFT that can be found at the National Foundation for Transplants COVID-19 Response Center. In their jointly released article, the doctors said, “The people most vulnerable to COVID-19 are the elderly and those that are immunocompromised. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified organ transplant patients as among the at-risk immunocompromised population.”

To help pay for critical medical services, many of these patients depend on donations made to the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT).  Most donations are made possible through the work of NFT volunteers across the nation.  Traditionally, NFT has relied on special events to generate funds to help close the financial gap that prevents transplant patients from receiving life-saving care.  However, with social distancing mandates in place across the country, these events have been cancelled or postponed including one of NFT’s largest, annual fundraising events, the Lights for Life Neon 5k.

“NFT’s services are required now more than ever,” said Gilchrist. “While our digital fundraising platform is still operational, we have also created the Lifeline Relief Fund to help patients and allow us to continue providing service to a vulnerable population when they need us most.”

Learn more about NFT’s support of transplant patients during this pandemic by visiting the National Foundation for Transplants Covid-19 Response Center at

About National Foundation for Transplants

National Foundation for Transplants is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has provided financial assistance to transplant patients since 1983.   We have generated and awarded more than $88 million for patient care.  Every year, more than 4,000 people — many with private health insurance — reach out to us because they and their insurance cannot cover the direct and indirect costs associated with receiving a desperately needed organ or tissue transplant.  For more than 37 years, we have helped save thousands of lives by improving the patients’ quality of life, lessening the financial hardship of acute care, promoting organ and tissue donation, and collaborating with community agencies and volunteers in organizing successful fundraising campaigns.  You can learn more about the National Foundation for Transplants by contacting us at 800-489-3863 or visiting