The National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI), a world leader in the procurement and distribution of biospecimens to advance research, recognized Carolina Donor Services, an Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) which serves 77 counties in North Carolina and Virginia, as the recipient of the third annual NDRI/AOPO Empowering Research and Discovery Award for outstanding commitment to the advancement of research. The award was presented on June 29 during the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting.

“Despite a global pandemic, Carolina Donor Services has continually pursued opportunities to work with NDRI through a variety of inspiring projects to expand the impact of gifts from the donors and donor families that they serve,” said Bill Leinweber, president and CEO of NDRI. “We are so excited to partner with AOPO to recognize Carolina Donor Network with this prestigious honor, and look forward to working on more projects in months to come.”

“It’s an honor to be recognized by NDRI and AOPO for our achievements,” said Danielle Niedfeldt, president and CEO, Carolina Donor Services. ”Scientific research is an important part of our recovery process, and, the results have been outstanding and meaningful. Our donor families want something positive to come from something so tragic. Partnering with NDRI, provides hope to our families that research will be beneficial to others.”

“AOPO is proud to recognize Carolina Donor Services for their continued and ongoing efforts to advance research, especially throughout a challenging year,” says AOPO Chief Executive Office of AOPO, Steve Miller. “The OPO is a role model for organizations, dedicating significant time and resources to ensure research donation is a top priority."

In 2020, Carolina Donor Services maintained its University of North Carolina Hospital partnership with a lab for lung allocation, which led to cells derived from donated lungs going to COVID-19 studies. Additionally, Carolina Donor Services actively participated in a Duke University Hospital clinical study on donation after cardiac death (DCD) heart transplants and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) APOLLO research study to improve kidney donation and transplant outcomes. Carolina Donor Services provided increased education and development to train its surgical staff how to recover organs and tissues for research and to help its donor family services staff speak to families about the option for research donation. This dedication led the OPO to receive a 90% research authorization rate throughout 2020.

About NDRI

The National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) is the nation’s leading source of human tissues, cells, and organs for scientific research. A not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization founded in 1980, NDRI is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, public and private foundations and organizations, pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporations. NDRI is a 24/7 operation that partners with a nationwide network of over 130 tissue source sites (TSS), including organ procurement organizations (OPOs), tissue banks, eye banks, and hospitals. The TSS are distributed throughout the U.S., in 45 states, with concentrations in major metropolitan areas on both the east and west coasts. Their wide geographic distribution allows NDRI to provide biospecimens from donor populations with diverse demographics and also facilitates the timely and efficient provision of fresh tissues directly to researchers across the U.S. and around the world. By serving as the liaison between procurement sources and the research community, NDRI is uniquely positioned to support breakthrough advances and discoveries that can affect advances in the treatment and cure of human diseases. For more information visit and follow us on social media: @ndri_resource

About Carolina Donor Services: Carolina Donor Services is the federally designated, not-for-profit organ procurement organization serving 7.5 million people in 77 counties in North Carolina and Virginia. With offices in Durham, Greenville and Winston-Salem, Carolina Donor Services maximizes the passing of the heroic gift of life from one human being to another through organ and tissue donation. In North Carolina, almost 3,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant and nationally, over 100,000 people are on the organ waiting list. For more information, visit

About AOPO

AOPO is a non-profit, national organization representing all federally designated Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs). The Association represents and serves OPOs through advocacy, support and the development of initiatives that will maximize the availability of organs and tissues and enhance the quality, effectiveness and integrity of the donation process. For more information visit