Tucson, Ariz 1988…

In 1988, a group of heart recipients in Tucson noticed a gap in care after they received their new hearts and created New Heart Society. The Society was created to provide peer support and education for heart recipients after their transplant. At that time there was very little support for transplant patients, not to mention their caregivers.  The Society met in hospital lobbies, in member’s houses for Christmas parties, luncheons, and for potlucks in the park.  The camaraderie and moral support was an integral part of their support for recipients.

We are forever grateful for their observation and foresight!

Founders of the New Heart Society: 

  • James Kessel 
  • Richard Bloodworth 
  • David Butrum 
  • Bernard Proffit 
  • William Strnad

They were dedicated to creating a lasting community of friends and volunteers that would provide support to those waiting for a transplant and recipients and caregivers that needed help

In 1998, the first issue of the quarterly newsletter “Change of Heart” was published and distributed to members and to the transplant community. The newsletter established an important network of recipients, people on the waitlist, and healthcare providers. 

Each publication included names and contact information of heart and heart/lung recipients that were willing to provide one-on-one support, as well as community events, Trans-aniversaries, and healthy recipes. In 2006, it was renamed “Transplant for Living.” 

Editors 1998 through current: 

  • Betty Konkle 
  • Dotty Stevenson 
  • Sue Reid 
  • Jerry Charette 
  • Mary Otte 
  • Desiree Garcia Alicia Montoya 
  • Ursula Neal 
  • Sharon Thomas 
  • Patti Cook 
  • Edith Pitts
  • Melissa McQueen

In 1995, the first Living Assistance loan was granted to a Tucson heart recipient for $500 for living expenses.

In 1996, AHCCCS included transplant as a beneficiary

In 1998, the first issue of the quarterly newsletter “Change of Heart” was published and distributed to members and to the transplant community. The newsletter established an important network of recipients, people on the waitlist, and healthcare providers.

Each publication included names and contact information of heart and heart/lung recipients that were willing to provide one-on-one support, as well as community events, Trans-aniversaries, and healthy recipes. In 2006, it was renamed “Transplant for Living.”

Editors 1998 through current:

  • Betty Konkle
  • Dotty Stevenson
  • Sue Reid
  • Jerry Charette
  • Mary Otte
  • Desiree Garcia Alicia Montoya
  • Ursula Neal
  • Sharon Thomas
  • Patti Cook
  • Edith Pitts
  • Melissa McQueen

In 2002, The School Poster Contest was created to get information into the public eye by displaying the posters in hospitals, doctor’s offices, schools and health centers.

In 2003, the Arizona Coalition for Transplantation, with the aid of the New Heart Society, obtained the DonateLife License plates to provide funds for transplantation and organ donation awareness.

In 2006, the Society realized that more than just heart recipients need help and expanded their reach to include all solid organ transplant recipients.  That is when the name changed to New Life Society.

In 2008 New Life Society establishes a School Awareness Program, designed to inform students 6-12th grade of organ donation and transplantation.  Champions of the Program were Dotty Stevenson, Andrew Bombeck, Carol Gustafson, Desiree Garcia, Erin Crockett, Ursula Neal, Anna Walters,

Also in this year, chapters were opened in Yuma, led by Ken Stanhope, Maribel Cross, and then Tom Gammill, and Tucson.

In 2009, the governor and Legislature tried to cut costs from the budget and removed over 90 patients from the AHCCCS transplant list, as their transplant surgery would no longer be covered.  New Life Society takes the lead and organized community leaders like Eddie Basha, Charlie Thomas, the four transplant centers, and Arizona Community Foundation, to help reverse that decision by coming up with an alternative proposal that would save the budget and reinstate those to the waitlist.  It wasn’t until April 2011 that they were able to persuade the governor that this was a good idea!

In 2010, internal processes and procedures were re-assessed to align better with the community’s needs.  An Advisory Board was created, with noted public figures like Rose Mofford, Anna Tovar, and other legislators and doctors.

In 2011, the Celebration of Life Gala raises money for the expansion project to Prescott and Eddie Basha’s creates the first endowment account.

In 2016, the board of directors expands the Living Assistance Loan program to include grants that recipients do not need to repay.  Recipients receive financial aid for housing, utilities, transportation, and medication co-pays.

Also in 2016, Transplant Team AZ merged with New Life Society.

In 2018, Transplant Community Alliance adopted a name that better reflects our goal in the transplant community.  Programs include peer support dinners, education meetings, participation in the Transplant Games of America, and coordination with community partners and transplant centers.

In 2019, the Mentorship Program was formalized and 60 recipients, donors, and caregivers were trained to provide support one-on-one to anyone who needed it.