New leader brings experience as trauma surgeon to organ and tissue procurement organization
ITASCA, Ill.—August 19, 2020 — The Board of Directors of Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, a not-for-profit organization that serves organ and tissue donors and their families, is pleased to announce that it has selected Harry Wilkins, M.D. to be the next president and chief executive officer.
The first African American CEO for Gift of Hope, Dr. Wilkins begins his new role Oct. 19, succeeding Kevin Cmunt, who has led the organization for the past eight years.
“We are honored Dr. Wilkins has chosen to bring his wealth of experience to Gift of Hope,” said Anne Gulotta, chairperson of the Gift of Hope Board of Directors. “It is especially fitting that we are announcing his upcoming leadership during National Minority Donor Awareness Month. Ethnic minorities make up nearly 60% of people waiting for lifesaving organs, but only a third of registered donors. Dr. Wilkins is committed to helping Gift of Hope bridge the trust gap between minority communities and the healthcare system.”
Dr. Wilkins was a trauma surgeon for 36 years, most recently at Blessing Hospital, Quincy, Ill., where he worked with Gift of Hope staff to support organ donor families. He spent six years as the Medical Director for Gift of Hope’s sister organization in Kansas City and seven years as a consultant to organ procurement organizations across the country, teaching physician communication skills. He recently served as medical advisor for the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO).
“I am motivated by a belief my mother instilled in me as a child, that no matter how little someone has, they always have something to give,” said Dr. Wilkins. “This credo has driven me throughout my life, including my work with organ and tissue donation.”
A native Chicagoan, Dr. Wilkins completed his undergraduate studies and earned his medical degree at Northwestern University. He holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Healthcare Management from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Harry is the perfect person to continue the growth we have experienced at Gift of Hope,” said Juan Carlos Caicedo., MD, board member of Gift of Hope and director of the Hispanic Transplant Program and Liver Transplant Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “His knowledge of critical care and ability to communicate with our hospital partners, his deep connection to our community including minorities, his passion for organ and tissue donation and especially his compassion for our donor families makes him special.”
Dr. Wilkins encourages everyone to register to become an organ and tissue donor and to let their families know their wishes to give others hope for a new life, which can provide comfort and ease decision making during a difficult time.
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