In 1973 Edward Pompeian received “the gift of life,” a kidney, from his mother, Helen. Ed’s personal experience with transplantation led him to believe that the health and well being of transplant patients and their families would be better served by living in a home-like setting.
For years after his transplant, Ed worked with three Mayo Clinic Rochester employees, Mary Davie, Dr. Sylvester Sterioff, and Greg Warner, to build support in the community and collect funds for a house down payment. In December 1984, Gift of Life, Inc., officially opened with a three-story, eight-guest-room, Craftsman-style house at 624 West Center Street, Rochester. Requests for rooms grew quickly.
In 1988, the convent at St. John’s Catholic Church, Rochester, was leased to help meet needs. Guest-room capacity increased to 21. In 1991, an executive director and a facilities manager were hired, and plans for a larger home were drafted.
In 1994, Gift of Life’s Board of Directors purchased the Judd house, near downtown Rochester and five blocks from Mayo Clinic. Renovations along with adding a north-side wing to the house began immediately. In 2000, a west wing was added, bringing the total guest-room count to 48. December of 2002, this wing was renamed in honor of our friend and benefactor, Norman L. Gillette, Jr., owner of Pepsi-Cola Bottling, Rochester/LaCrosse.
In November 2009, a second house opened across the street from the main campus. The additional 36 guest rooms at the Anne and Henry Zarrow Home made the Gift of Life Transplant House the largest transplant house program in the country at 84 rooms. From the beginning to today, almost 35 years later, providing a supportive home-like environment for transplant patients and their caregivers to heal has been the inspiration.