Organ Transplant Support (OTS) was formed in the summer of 1990 by Don and Rose LaRocco and Bill and Sally Phillips. Don and Bill were both transplant recipients. Bill Phillips received a kidney/pancreas transplant in 1988 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Don LaRocco received also a kidney/pancreas transplant in 1989 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
When Bill Phillips and Don LaRocco received their transplants in 1988 and 1989, organ transplants were still in the early days. Pancreas transplants were considered experimental and were not covered by Medicare. The only hospital in the Chicago area that was performing pancreas transplants was the University of Chicago, and they had done 8 transplants in 1988. One of the reasons that both Bill Phillips and Don LaRocco chose the University of Wisconsin-Madison for their transplants was because this medical center had performed 42 pancreas transplants in 1988.
Bill Phillips and Don LaRocco were introduced to each other by their Naperville, Illinois nephrologist, and they started sharing their experiences waiting for an organ and living as a transplant recipient. Both men felt there was a need for a support group for transplant recipients and for those waiting for a transplant.
Both couples agreed that the support they had given each other made their transplant journeys easier. They were able to share their concerns, their fears, and their successes with each other. Both couples agreed that their journeys became easier because of each other's support and strength. They felt a support group should be formed to assist others on this road.
The first monthly meeting of Organ Transplant Support took place with a small group of transplant recipients on September 7, 1990. Membership within the first year exceeded 100.
Organ Transplant Support in now a registered 501C-3 non-profit organization with the state of Illinois. We continue to be organized exclusively by transplant recipients and transplant families. Organ Transplant Support, Inc. is proud to continue the tradition started by Bill Phillips and Don LaRocco, and we have provided support, education and resources for organ transplant recipients and their families for the past 28 years.