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Our Beginnings

We saw a need—and we took action.

In 1983, a Philadelphia transplant surgeon, Dr. Jack Kolff, and his wife, Patricia, a nurse, started Help Hope Live (then known as National Heart Assist & Transplant Fund) to help end-stage heart disease patients fundraise for the cost of transplants. At the time, insurance companies hesitated to cover any expenses related to what was then viewed as an experimental procedure. Patients were being denied treatment due to the cost. 

Our founders couldn’t sit by and watch. They didn’t just care; they provided a solution: If insurance didn’t cover heart transplants, the local community could help raise the necessary funds instead. 

By 1995, advances in transplantation and demand for our services lead us to expand our mission to support fundraising for all solid organ, marrow, and cell transplant candidates. So much hope was within reach.

We changed our name to National Transplant Assistance Fund (NTAF).


Our Evolution

Growing hope

In 2000, a spinal cord injury rocked our local community. Witnessing the immense financial burden that spinal cord injuries can place on individuals and families, we expanded our support in the pursuit of help and hope, and took on our first Catastrophic Injury Campaign. Over the next decade, we began serving individuals and families impacted by catastrophic injuries and illnesses that affect mobility.

By 2011, our scope and impact had far outgrown our original identity. We also recognized that our expanding impact had the potential to do something more than just assist families facing medical bills with fundraising. We changed our name to Help Hope Live for better inclusion of all our clients and to reflect what people do each time they give to, volunteer for, support, or recommend our organization.

In 2014, Help Hope Live was ranked the No. 1 nonprofit in Philadelphia by Charity Navigator for our top 4-star rating. We continue to be ranked nationally in the top 1% of all charities evaluated.

By 2016, we expanded our services to include support for Catastrophic Illness Campaigns covering a wide range of rare diseases impacting mobility, health, and quality of life. The list of illnesses in the Help Hope Live network grows every year.


Our Milestones

In 2018, we celebrated our 35th anniversary and $135 million raised. In 2019, we earned another perfect rating from Charity Navigator, solidifying our efficiency, transparency, fiscal accountability, and commitment to our clients.

Early in 2020, the entire world faced a new threat we never saw coming in coronavirus (COVID-19). In March 2020, our nonprofit temporarily pivoted to 100% remote work to continue to bring fundraising support and critical care within reach for our clients. In the process, we saw the immense burdens facing countless families outside of our network.

In April 2020, we expanded our fundraising support to cover individuals and families facing a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. We also saw an opportunity to grow our staff across the U.S. to reflect our national community.

In 2022, on the heels of our 40th year of service, we unveiled a new tagline to encompass our four decades of experience and impact: Trusted Medical Fundraising.



Forty and Forward

Today we are a national nonprofit with thousands of clients in all 50 states—and a mission that reaches even past U.S. borders to serve families in Puerto Rico. As we mark our 40th year of trusted medical fundraising, we are proud to have raised more than $181 million to help more than 20,000 families facing a transplant, injury, or illness access the health care and equipment they need to heal, live, and thrive.

Since our founding, funds raised through Help Hope Live campaigns have helped:

  • Over 4,300 patients receive a transplant
  • Restore independence and quality of life for more than 2,025 individuals living with a catastrophic injury or illness
  • Cover millions of dollars in out-of-pocket medical expenses.

To celebrate, we’re looking back at 40 of the most significant moments in Help Hope Live’s history. Catch up on our #40andforward campaign on our blog.

Don’t miss a moment more! Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram to see these 40 weeks of hope unfold.