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Where We've Been

Over the past three decades, LifeSource has provided hope and healing for thousands of grieving families in our communities and new life for transplant recipients. Scroll through some of our notable milestones.

  • 1989

    LifeSource is formed through a collaboration of local transplant centers: Hennepin Healthcare, University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic and Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

  • 1989

    LifeSource hires its first employee, Susan Gunderson, and is granted full membership in UNOS as an organ procurement organization.

  • 1990

    Sanford Fargo (formerly St. Luke’s Hospital) and Sanford Bismarck (formerly MedCenter One) open their transplant centers.

  • 1993

    LifeSource initiates its donor family services program to provide ongoing grief support, resources and recognition events for donor families.

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  • 1993

    Avera McKennan, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, opens its transplant center.

  • 1995

    LifeSource begins providing preservation services for its transplant centers, creating efficiencies in the donation process.

  • 1995

    LifeSource hosts its first annual Golf Classic fundraiser, organized by the friends and family of Terri Opp, a young woman who died waiting for a heart transplant.  Over the years, the event has raised $2.01 million to support public education about donation and donor family care.

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  • 1996

    LifeSource begins its volunteer program to increase public support for donation. Most volunteers, now called Donate Life Ambassadors, are donor family members or recipients. Currently, we have over 270 ambassadors engaged throughout  our three-state region who share their stories and encourage donor registration.

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  • 1999

    LifeSource expands donation options for the families it serves, offering the opportunity to donate tissue.

  • 2001

    South Dakota Governor Bill Janklow initiates the first Donor Family Recognition Ceremony hosted jointly by LifeSource and the State. The event has been carried on by every governor since then, and the tradition has spread to both North Dakota and Minnesota.

  • 2002

    Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota pass legislation honoring a donor’s documented decision. In 2019, 69% of adults in our three states are registered organ, eye and tissue donors.

  • 2002

    LifeSource joins donation agencies around the country as part of Donate Life America (formerly the Coalition on Donation), a national non-profit dedicated to increasing donor registration and creating a culture where donation is embraced as a fundamental human responsibility.

  • 2006

    State law is passed in Minnesota that mandates 30 minutes of education about donation is included in driver’s education classes. LifeSource provides materials and curriculum, free of charge, for instructors to meet this mandate. Since the law was enacted, support for donation among new drivers has increased.

  • 2006

    Sanford Sioux Falls Hospital, formerly known as Sioux Valley Hospital, begins its transplant program.

  • 2006

    LifeSource launches an online donor registry in the state of Minnesota. At the press conference announcement, Governor Tim Pawlenty becomes the first Minnesotan to add his name to the online donor registry.

  • 2007

    The Revised Uniformed Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) is adopted in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. The law governs donation and ensures that a person’s individual, lifetime decision to be a donor is honored upon their death. In 2018, 73% of organ donors and 60% of tissue donors cared for by LifeSource were donor designated.

  • 2007

    North Dakota passes a state law to allow youth under the age of 18 to register as a donor on their driver’s license or state ID card. The law was supported by friends of Alexa Kersting, a young girl from West Fargo, ND who died while waiting for a lung transplant.

  • 2008

    LifeSource launches its Barbershop Conversations program, funded by a federal grant. The aim of the program is to increase donation in the Twin Cities African American community by meeting people where they’re at and providing education on health, donation and transplantation through partnerships with local barbers.

  • 2008

    LifeSource opens its Donor Services Center, bringing the crucial function of referral management, tissue and eye donation family conversations and donation coordination in-house.

  • 2009

    LifeSource launches its signature education event – the Donate Life Symposium – with 149 attendees. The symposium occurs every two years; in 2017, the event was attended by over 700 healthcare and end-of-life professionals. Save the date for SPARK: A Donate Life Symposium on Oct. 24, 2019 in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

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  • 2009

    LifeSource secures a federal grant and partners with Rapid City Regional Hospital to create our Donate Life Black Hills project. This program was centered on healthcare professionals sharing the message of donation in their community and featured several videos of hospital staff stating their support and educating the public.

  • 2012

    The Minnesota legislature passes a bi-partisan bill to allow Minnesotans to donate $2 or more to donation education when they apply for or renew their driver’s license, state ID card or vehicle registration.

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  • 2013

    The state of South Dakota initiates several important law changes to make it easier to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. Since the law’s enactment, the state of South Dakota has had the fastest growing donation share in our three states, currently at 70% of adults.

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  • 2013

    LifeSource’s Board of Directors formally approves the launch of an intentional fundraising program to support public education and donor family care. Learn how you can contribute at the link below.

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  • 2013

    North Memorial Hospital creates the first Wall of Heroes in the LifeSource region. This touching tribute includes the photos of donors the hospital has cared for, and a beautiful statement of support. The wall was later recreated as an electronic tribute so that donor families and their loved ones can view tributes from anywhere, at any time. Since North Memorial’s wall was created, 11 more donor tributes in the LifeSource region have been launched, with another 5 in development as of 2019.

     

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  • 2014

    LifeSource moves into its new home in Minneapolis on West River Road. Key features include a healing garden to honor the gifts of donation and an on-site clinical space. The following year, onsite tissue recovery begins, making the process smoother for donor families and hospital partners.

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  • 2014

    LifeSource launches its Gallery of Hope, a collection of tributes accessible online, offering donor families the opportunity to recognize and remember their loved one through photos and words. In addition to the online version, donor families and guests can see the Gallery of Hope prominently displayed at LifeSource in Minneapolis. Click on the link below to visit our Gallery of Hope.

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  • 2015

    With the move to our new headquarters, LifeSource creates a healing garden to recognize organ, eye and tissue donors and their families. The garden serves as a peaceful and reflective community gathering space. Each spring, we inscribe donor names into our memorial wall and host a dedication ceremony. Learn more about our legacy opportunities below.

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  • 2016

    LifeSource receives $200,000 to provide donation education to underserved communities. This legislatively appropriated funding was managed by the Minnesota Department of Health and supported a program between LifeSource and Minnesota transplant centers to increase support for donation among the American Indian community. The resulting campaign, Talk Donation, focused on increasing conversations about this important topic with the Twin Cities American Indian community in a culturally-responsible way by highlighting real people’s thoughts on donation and transplantation.

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  • 2016

    LifeSource facilitates a first-of-its-kind gift of donation in the Upper Midwest – a face transplant – in partnership with Mayo Clinic and Sanford Health. This unique and generous gift was provided by a donor named Calen “Rudy” Ross and his wife, Lilly. Watch their story by clicking “Learn More” below.

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  • 2016

    At the request of hospitals and families, LifeSource expands its programs to include eye donation. Our organization now provides comprehensive donation services for organ, eye and tissue donation, streamlining the process for hospital partners and providing more effective care for donor families.

  • 2016

    Team MN-DAK becomes a program of LifeSource, bringing in-house the celebration of donation and transplantation through athletic competition. Team MN-DAK participates in the Donate Life Transplant Games of America and, in turn, honors donors, donor families, celebrates transplant and encourages others to register as donors.

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  • 2017

    Minnesota leads the nation and becomes the first state to allow for donor registration on hunting and fishing licenses, and many states have since pursued, or are interested in pursuing, similar legislation. In the first full year of implementation, more than 32,000 Minnesotans registered as donors through this unique opportunity.

  • 2017

    LifeSource’s dedication to performance excellence and improvement is recognized with the “Excellence Level” of recognition from the Performance Excellence Network (PEN). This is the highest recognition given by PEN, indicating mature, well-aligned organizational processes, systematic evaluation and improvement, and strong organizational results with some leading the industry.

  • 2017

    LifeSource is honored as a Top Workplace on the annual Star Tribune list, as ranked by employees. The engagement factor most cited by employees is “connection to the mission.”

  • 2017

    LifeSource launches a Simulation Laboratory (SIM Lab) to more efficiently and cost-effectively provide training for clinical teams. This means getting donation coordinators trained and in the field independently more quickly, maximizing opportunities to save and heal lives.

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  • 2018

    LifeSource opens its new Rochester office.

  • 2018

    LifeSource creates and launches a new public education campaign called “Check the Box,” showing that anyone can register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. More than 2.8 million people have watched the signature campaign video and donor designation moves to more than 67% in the region. Check out the video by clicking “Learn More.”

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  • 2018

    Children’s Minnesota becomes the ninth hospital in the LifeSource region to add a transplant center.

  • 2019

    LifeSource honors 30 years of saving and healing lives. We’re honored to have cared for more than 10,000 generous donors and their families, providing more than 15,000 organs for transplant and more than 500,000 tissue grafts for people in need. Seventy percent of adults in the Upper Midwest are registered donors, reflecting a culture of generosity.