Center for Organ Recovery & Education, Izzie’s Gifts of Hope Foundation Award Scholarships to Students Impacted by Organ Donation

-Recipients Recognized for Contributions to Organ Donation Awareness and Scholastic Achievement-

PITTSBURGH, May 21, 2014 – The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) and Izzie’s Gifts of Hope Foundation are pleased to award six high school seniors with 2014 Isabelle Christenson Memorial Scholarships. The program recognizes individuals or family members of someone directly impacted by organ, tissue or cornea donation and their contributions to organ donation awareness. The 2014 local recipients (individuals within CORE’s service area) each being awarded a $3,000 scholarship are:

  • Brianna Anderson (Flemington, West Virginia): Brianna’s youngest brother, Aaron, was a donor.  While this was a terrible loss for her family, they have found some peace knowing that Aaron helped others.  Brianna and her mother are volunteers for CORE and continue to advocate for the importance of donation and saving lives.  Brianna will attend Alderson Broaddus University in the fall and plans to double-major in accounting and business administration.
  •  Maria DiSanti (Moon Township, PA):  Two years ago, Maria’s mother received a kidney transplant and Maria was amazed by the transplant process and how the team worked together to save her mother’s life. Maria dedicated her senior project on the organ donation and transplantation process.  Maria will be attending Pennsylvania State University, Altoona in the fall. She plans to major in early childhood education and minor in special education.
  • Brittany Grimm (Erie, PA):  Brittany was previously diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart stiffens and eventually will not pump blood through the body. After two years facing this diagnosis and visits to the doctor, she received her heart transplant at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on May 4, 2007. As a volunteer for CORE, Brittany has served as a speaker at local high schools, community events, health fairs and hospitals.  Brittany has been accepted to Pennsylvania State University, Behrend, Seton Hill University, and Pennsylvania State University, Erie. She plans to study communications and visual arts.
  • Brynn Johnson (Seneca Valley, PA):  Brynn’s father was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and needed a kidney transplant. Fortunately, Brynn’s uncle Lee was a match and after a very difficult and emotional waiting period, donated his kidney to her father. Although this transplant has positively affected her father, he has faced some difficult changes. Brynn regularly informs people about donation and shares stories about her loved ones and their experiences with donation and transplantation. Brynn plans to attend the University of Louisville in the fall.


The national recipients (individuals outside of CORE’s service area) each receiving a $1,000 scholarship are:

  • Morgan Ray (Knoxville, TN):  Morgan’s parents adopted her sister, Emily, who for the first three years of her life, suffered from illness and never left the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Emily became a candidate and was placed on the waiting list for a four-organ transplant. In 2004, Emily received her transplant at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Morgan had the opportunity to visit Emily and spend time with her during her recovery. Morgan describes that this entire process made her family stronger and gave them the opportunity to meet other amazing families. Morgan plans to attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the fall where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in animal science with a pre-veterinary focus.
  •  Emma Rosenthal (Philadelphia, PA):  In 2010, Emma Rosenthal lost her father to a heart attack. Emma and her mother had no doubt that they wanted Emma’s father to be a donor. Emma describes that being a part of a donor family not only provided her with a supportive and amazing community, but also allowed them to keep the memory of her father alive. Emma plans to attend Muhlenberg College in the fall and major in media communications and creative writing.


“On behalf of CORE, we are pleased to recognize these young people and award scholarships to further their education,” said Susan Stuart, president and CEO of CORE.  “As individuals directly impacted by donation, they are some of our strongest advocates about the importance of registering to become an organ donor and the need to educate others. We are proud of their efforts and congratulate them on this outstanding achievement.”

Applicants of The Isabelle Christenson Memorial Scholarship were required to submit essays, two letters of recommendation and an acceptance letter from college, university, trade or technical school for the 2014-2015 school year.  Scholarship recipients are selected by CORE, as CORE supports Izzie’s Gifts of Hope Foundation, which was established to enrich the lives of children and families with chronic illnesses by providing fun-filled activities and outings that create normalcy and laughter during stressful times.  For more information, visit

About CORE

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) is one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States.  CORE works closely with donor families and designated health care professionals to deliver the gift of hope by coordinating the surgical recovery of organs, tissues and corneas for transplantation.  CORE also facilitates the computerized matching of donated organs, tissues and corneas.  With headquarters in Pittsburgh and an office in Charleston, West Virginia, CORE oversees a region that encompasses 155 hospitals and almost six million people throughout western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, NY.  For more information, visit or call 1-800-DONORS-7.

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