MORA Hosts 2019 Spero Awards

July 26, 2019

MORA hosted the 6th Annual Spero Awards on Thursday, July 25, 2019 at the Hilton Jackson. The awards ceremony recognizes hospital partners, medical professionals, and community partners who help make the Donate Life mission possible. The keynote speaker for this year’s event was face transplant recipient Pat Hardison of Senatobia. Hardison, a former volunteer firefighter was severely disfigured when a burning roof collapsed on his head in 2001. On August 14, 2015, doctors at NYU Langone completed the most complex face transplant to date.

A total of 14 Spero Awards were presented to individuals and organizations from areas throughout the state. The word Spero is Latin for “hope”. The title was chosen to reflect the hope that organ and tissue donation brings to those in need of a lifesaving organ or a life healing tissue transplant.

2019 Spero Award recipients:

  • Most Supportive Ancillary or Healthcare Staff – Dustin Wicker, RRT, University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • Nurse Champion of the Year- Holly Holder, RN, University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • Advanced Practice Nurse or Nurse Manager of the Year- Brad Pickering, CNP, Forrest General Hospital
  • Physician Champion of the Year- Dr. Edward Pellerano, Forrest General Hospital
  • Hospital Leadership of the Year Award- Gladys Wolff, MBAHA, Forrest General Hospital
  • Hospital Most Supportive of Tissue Donation- Laird Hospital
  • Most Supportive Organ & Tissue Hospital- Forrest General Hospital
  • Most Supportive Mortuary Services- Riemann Family Funeral Homes
  • Most Supportive Coroner- David Ruth, Rankin County Coroner
  • Community Faith Leader or Chaplain of the Year- Charles Glenn, Gateway M.B. Church
  • Volunteer of the Year- Adrian Murry, Hattiesburg
  • Donation Advocate of the Year- Bill and Leslie Carruth, Meridian
  • Most Supportive Care Team-Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit (NSICU), University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • Storyteller Award – Jessica Bowman, WDAM-TV, Hattiesburg  

Mississippi Lions Eye Bank (MLEB) presented the Gift of Sight Award to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and the Partners in Vision Award to Merit Health Rankin, for their work in helping to facilitate sight saving corneal transplants.

Hospital Excellence Awards were awarded to10 hospitals who have achieved national organ donation performance standards set by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Hospitals receiving those awards were:

  • Anderson Regional Medical Center
  • Garden Park Medical Center
  • Greenwood Leflore Hospital
  • Memorial Hospital at Gulfport
  • Merit Health Biloxi
  • North Mississippi Medical Center
  • Ocean Springs Hospital
  • Singing River Hospital
  • South Central Regional Medical Center
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson

Also recognized during the ceremony were 32 hospitals from across the state that have enrolled in the Mississippi Hospitals for Hope campaign, which was developed to raise awareness for the need of organ, eye, and tissue donation and increase registrations including:

  • Anderson Regional Medical Center
  • Anderson Regional Medical Center-South
  • Delta Regional Medical Center
  • Field Health Systems
  • Forrest General Hospital
  • Highland Community Hospital
  • John C. Stennis Memorial Hospital
  • King’s Daughters Medical Center
  • Laird Hospital
  • Magee General Hospital
  • Memorial Hospital at Gulfport
  • Merit Health Central
  • Merit Health River Region
  • Mississippi Baptist Medical Center
  • Neshoba General Hospital
  • North Mississippi Medical Center 
  • North Mississippi Medical Center-Iuka
  • North Mississippi Medical Center-Pontotoc
  • North Sunflower Medical Center
  • Ocean Springs Hospital
  • OCH Regional Medical Center
  • Regency Hospital of Meridian
  • Rush Foundation Hospital
  • St. Dominic Hospital
  • Scott Regional Hospital
  • Simpson General Hospital
  • Singing River Hospital
  • South Central Regional Medical Center
  • Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center, Grenada
  • Wayne General Hospital

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the agency (1994-2019), MORA also recognized three employees that have been with the agency since it became an independent Organ Procurement Organization (OPO). Wauline Carter-Director of Finance, Dr. Shirley Schlessinger-Chief Medical Officer and Board Chair, and Kevin Stump-CEO and President were presented with the Award of the Distinction for their 25 years of service.

To request a photo of an award winner(s), please contact Lacey Kuhn at (601) 933-1000 or