February 26, 2010 -- When the man of the moment, Miami Heat all star and philanthropist Alonzo Mourning, walked on stage to accept the inaugural Miami Transplant Institute Humanitarian Award, a crowd of nearly 400 stood up and applauded thunderously. Mourning, with customary humility, thanked the presenter, UM President Donna E. Shalala, and the audience, which included several of his fellow organ transplant recipients.
Mourning, who underwent a kidney transplant in 2003, became spokesman for the Transplant Institute in 2008 and has been spreading the word about the skilled surgical teams that perform more than 500 life-saving adult and pediatric transplants each year, making the institute one of the busiest in the nation.
"This is definitely an amazing honor," Mourning said at the Wednesday evening event. "I am very proud and I am very humbled to stand here and receive this. Like President Shalala said, I don't do any of this for awards. My philanthropic work is done because I have received so many blessings, so many gifts, and they would be worthless if I didn't share them."
And, yet again, he didn't absorb all the spotlight: "President Shalala and the Miami Transplant Institute also belong in the category—humanitarians," Mourning said. "I could just as easily be presenting this award to you."
The event also featured remarks from Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Eneida Roldan, M.D., CEO of Jackson Health System, and Alan Livingstone, M.D., professor and chair of the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery. All three praised the work of the Transplant Institute, operated jointly by the University and Jackson Memorial Hospital and the only Florida center to perform every type of organ transplant. They also lauded Mourning for his support for organ donation and his many years of selfless dedication to the youth of Miami-Dade County.
"Alonzo Mourning is truly exceptional and I can't think of a more deserving individual," said Goldschmidt, CEO of University of Miami Health System. He told the audience about Mourning's recent visit to Haiti to help UM set up a field hospital in the earthquake-ravaged country.
The award dinner featured silent and live auctions and musical performances. The dinner co-chairs, Linda and Phil Corey, thanked the many members of UM/Jackson leadership and the outstanding transplant physicians, nurses and others who work every day to save lives. Phil Corey, who received a liver transplant at UM/Jackson in 2007, has been a longtime donor to the Miller School.
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