Mission and History

Gift of Life Howie's House was created to provide a unique service for area transplant families.


Mission Statement

Gift of Life Howie’s House serves as a “home away from home” for transplant patients and their families by providing temporary, affordable lodging, and supportive services to those who travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for transplant-related care. Gift of Life Howie’s House is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization.


gift of life donor program offices
Gift of Life Donor Program offices located just a couple of blocks away from Gift of Life Howie’s House.

For 50 years, Gift of Life Donor Program — a federally designated nonprofit organ procurement organization — has served as the link in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware, connecting patients awaiting organ and tissue transplants and those who donate these precious gifts of life.

Gift of Life Donor Program has coordinated 14,196 donors and 39,469 organs for transplant – more than any other U.S. organ procurement organization (OPO) since the inception of our national donation system in 1988.

Recognizing the critical need for affordable accommodations and supportive services for transplant families, Gift of Life Donor Program and the Transplant Foundation collaborated to open a unique lodging facility for transplant candidates, recipients, family members, and living donors. That facility, Gift of Life Howie’s House, officially opened its doors to transplant families in July 2011 in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia.

A World Leader

For the 16th consecutive year, Gift of Life is one of the nation’s leading organ procurement organizations, coordinating the most life-saving organs for transplant among all U.S. OPOs. It represents an ongoing legacy of new beginnings from grieving families to those awaiting the “gift of life.”

In 2023, Gift of Life continued to build its nearly 50-year legacy with 693 organ donors resulting in 1,734 transplants and continued to rank in Tier 1 of CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) OPO donation and transplant performance metrics.

Gift of Life also continued to lead the nation in providing kidneys — the most-needed organ for transplant — with 991 transplanted in 2023 bringing its total number to 20,825, which is the most kidneys for transplant overall in U.S. history. This historic accomplishment aligns with CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) initiatives to improve kidney utilization and access. A half million people in the U.S. are suffering from End-Stage Renal Disease, with 90,000 awaiting a kidney transplant.

In the Gift of Life service area—eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware—there are over 5,000 individuals waiting for a transplant, and it is likely that these candidates will have surgery at a transplant center served by Gift of Life Donor Program. Yet, many others living outside of this service area must travel to Philadelphia’s world-class hospitals for such treatment.

Meeting a Need

While transplant outcomes have improved, the anxiety and challenges associated with the transplantation process continue to significantly impact each family member both emotionally and financially. Transplant patients and their families experience a great deal of stress and anxiety during their journey toward the gift of life. Endless hours of diagnosis, treatment, and waiting for the call for an available organ, false hopes when an available organ is not an ideal match, and the financial burden of medical treatment paired with time away from work are just some of the trials they face when a transplant is the only answer to a life-threatening diagnosis.

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