On August 6, 1992, the doctors at Tampa General Hospital gave the Gift of Life, a new heart, to one Newman Fletcher. As he made a good recovery, Mac, as he is universally known, started to act upon some suggestions he heard during recovery. In August, 1992, Mac and Barbara’s (Mac’s Caregiver) home became the meeting site for five other recipients and their caregivers. Thus was born “The SW Florida Organ Recipients”, the predecessor of our current Group.
The Recipients would hold meetings whenever they were available and in whatever meeting room was available. Early meetings were conducted in the Fletcher kitchen and then moved to S.W. Regional Medical Center. Venues changed frequently, even to rooms at Bon Secours Hospital in Charlotte County.
After three years as President, Mac retired to be succeeded by Steve Sferruza, an original member of the group. Steve was followed by Andy Kaufmann, and then, Amy Saul Gowan assumed the presidency. Amy secured a meeting room at the Shell Factory in N. Fort Myers as a central meeting place and the group’s numbers improved. Unfortunately, Amy’s health began to deteriorate and finally she relinquished her gavel to George Kearns who complete her term and assumed another term. While Amy was still in office she reached an agreement with S.W. Regional Hospital to hold the Group’s meetings in their facility. They offered a meeting room and lunch which was gratefully accepted. After moving to the Hospital, the Group continued to grow and now numbers over one hundred members. The members represent all forms of organ transplants such as heart, lung, kidney, liver, cornea, etc., as well as caregivers, those awaiting transplants, and donor families.
The original Group, founded and nurtured by Mac Fletcher, was incorporated as a non-profit Florida corporation while George held office. Donna Williamson was then elected President and presided over the creation of the web site and the Fletcher Fund, a philanthropic fund for people living in Southwest Florida, established in honor of Mac to assist recipients and those awaiting transplantation.