The Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance (The Alliance) has created the annual Glenn Matsuki Outstanding Mentorship Award to celebrate the life and contributions of Glenn Matsuki, who served as a mentor and program consultant for The Alliance for the past five years and who passed away on January 15, 2023. Glenn was extremely passionate about mentoring and touched the lives of hundreds of donation and transplantation professionals.
“The word people use consistently to describe Glenn is ‘inspiring’ and this new award will allow us to continue Glenn’s legacy and recognize people who are inspiring others through their mentoring,” says Karri Hobson-Pape, executive director of The Alliance.
With 1,200 connections on LinkedIn, 900 Facebook friends, and 26,000 blog posts reaching 4 million visitors in 15 years, Matsuki, was the ultimate connector with an ability to keep and make friends that made him an effective mentor. During an April 2021 interview, he says he learned those skills growing up.
“When you grow up in Hawaii, you learn the Aloha Spirit, and that’s basically be kind to others, accept others for what they are, and appreciate their culture and what they represent,” said Matsuki.
Matsuki said that Aloha Spirit served him well through a variety of careers which included working at Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, owning a floral shop and a pirate radio station, and becoming the Transplant Administration Coordinator at Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Transplant Center. He said he was paying forward the help he received by serving as a mentor in The Alliance Mentorship Program – a national network of peer mentors for the organ donation and transplantation community of practice.
Being an active listener was at the core of Matsuki’s mentoring style. “Allowing people to express their thoughts, their concerns, their fears, and their challenging situations and talking about and celebrating small successes is key,” he said. “I think I get more out of mentoring than I give to my mentee because I’m very proud of their accomplishments,” he continued. “I always tell my mentee that the commitment I want out of you is that you’re going to mentor someone else. You’re going to take what you learn and you’re going to help that person became a leader as well.”
Matsuki said his family created his tenaciousness. “My parents and grandparents really instilled in me that you work hard, you do your best and if you fail, you try, try again. That’s been my mantra throughout life.”
In 1995, he caught a flu that progressed rapidly from an infection to congestive heart failure. He was on the waiting list for 11 weeks and said his post-transplant recovery still held the record at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was admitted on a Friday and went home the following Saturday.
After his transplant, his life took another turn and he volunteered at Cedars-Sinai. “I would greet patients that were being evaluated for heart transplantation. I shared my story to express that there’s life after transplant and not to fear.”
Eventually, he became the administrative coordinator in the liver transplant program and then joined the organ procurement organization OneLegacy. He went on to serve as a project manager at Donor Network West and as a program leader at The Alliance.
“I’m especially proud of my work in healthcare,” he said. “Being able to speak to a broader audience at conferences and sharing knowledge of best practices to increase organ donation are the things I’m really proud of.”
Matsuki lived with his partner John in Las Vegas.
View the recent full story about Glenn here.