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Press Release

LifeGift Adds Recovery Surgeons to Increase Lives Saved Across Texas and the United States

October 4, 2022

LifeGift, the non-profit organ and tissue donation organization serving 109 Texas counties in Southeast, North and West Texas, announced the hiring of three surgeons to recover abdominal organs from LifeGift donors. LifeGift is the only organ procurement organization in the U.S. with three full-time abdominal recovery surgeons and two additional abdominal recovery surgeons under contract to recover abdominal organs. Historically, transplant surgeons travel to the donor’s hospital to perform the recovery, then return to the transplant hospital with the donated organ to perform the transplantation. It can be logistically challenging to coordinate multiple surgeons’ travel, often by plane, to ensure all arrive at the same time for the organ recovery surgery. By adding these very experienced surgeons, LifeGift dramatically increased its ability to optimize the gifts of donation and provides support to transplant programs by ensuring a surgeon is available to recover abdominal organs from a donor, especially in situations with tight time restrictions.

The three surgeons are: Nicholas Onaca, MD, Jeffrey Reese, MD and Beth Amundsen, MD. These experienced surgeons, who are American Society of Transplant Surgeons trained, are able to assist in evaluating organs to determine suitability for transplant which increases the likelihood the transplant team will accept a liver, kidney or pancreas for transplant. In addition, Mohamed Elfedaly, MD and Basem Solomon, MD, two general surgeons who also are trained to perform abdominal organ recoveries, have been contracted with LifeGift and are available on an as needed basis to recover abdominal organs in west Texas.

Saving lives through deceased organ and tissue donation and transplantation is a 24-hour, 7-day a week responsibility. LifeGift coordinates the recovery of organs and tissues for transplant. The complex organ and tissue donation and transplant process involves collaborating with highly skilled medical professionals at many different levels.

“Due to the time limitations in organ recovery, it can be a logistical challenge to locate surgeons needed in the operating room in the timeframe necessary to optimize the gifts of donation,” says Dr. R. Patrick Wood, executive vice president and chief medical officer for LifeGift. “Now that LifeGift has three dedicated recovery surgeons, we are confident we can facilitate more transplantations and save more lives through the generosity of organ, tissue and eye donors.”

Medical advancements have made organ transplantation a successful treatment for end-stage organ failure, but transplants would not be possible without the selfless generosity of organ donors and their families. LifeGift’s organ recovery team reflects this, balancing deep medical knowledge with compassion and care for families. Thanks to the generosity of donors and their families, organ donation saves tens of thousands of lives across the U.S. each year. To register as a life-saving organ, tissue and eye donor, visit