Rick Hillbom takes over as CEO at Gift of Life

Gift of Life Michigan logo

Replaces Richard Pietroski, who leaves as CEO emeritus after distinguished career

ANN ARBOR, MI—Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s federally designated organ and tissue recovery program, has named Rick Hillbom as interim CEO following the departure of longtime leader Richard Pietroski. The appointment was effective at the close of business on February 26, Mr. Pietroski’s last day.

Mr. Hillbom joined Gift of Life in 2013 as chief operating officer. He previously was an administrator at the Oakwood Healthcare System in Dearborn, Mich., with over three decades in the hospital world. At Gift of Life, he has overseen hospital services, the Donor Services Center, funeral home and medical examiner relations, and hospital/transplant center satisfaction. In addition, Mr. Hillbom has led construction of a $14.2-million surgical center that is slated to open in early spring this year.

“I am honored to guide Gift of Life in its mission to save and improve more lives, knowing that I have some very big shoes to fill,” Mr. Hillbom said. “We have a dedicated, highly professional staff that understands the critical importance of honoring donors and their families and getting these precious gifts to the patients who desperately need them.”

Mr. Pietroski leaves Gift of Life to become president of Lung Bioengineering, a public benefit corporation and a division of United Therapeutics Inc., in Silver Spring, Maryland. He retains the title of Gift of Life CEO emeritus, in recognition of his leadership and vision. Mr. Pietroski joined Gift of Life in 1983 and served as CEO for the past eight years.

During Mr. Pietroski’s tenure, Gift of Life became one of the top organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in such areas as donation after circulatory death and donor lung management. It also was at the forefront of innovations such as OPO-owned ex-vivo lung perfusion machines, which can rehabilitate donated lungs outside of the body as they are prepared for transplant.

Additionally, Mr. Pietroski helped Gift of Life achieve legislative advances in the areas of medical examiner collaboration, first person authorization and the Michigan Peace of Mind advance directive registry. The Michigan Organ Donor Registry also more than doubled during his leadership and now tops 4 million people, representing over 55 percent of adults in the state.

“My heart will always be with Gift of Life,” Mr. Pietroski said. “But in my new position, I will still be involved and, most importantly, can help the donation and transplant community save even more lives.”

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EDITOR’S NOTE:

  • Gift of Life Michigan serves as the liaison between hospitals, donor families and transplant centers, and oversees the Michigan Organ Donor Registry in conjunction with the Michigan Secretary of State. Anyone can join the Donor Registry, regardless of their age or their social or health history. Sign up at https://giftoflifemichigan.org/.
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