Prior to the early 1980s, transplantation was still considered to be experimental. Although surgical techniques for transplantation had been developed and organs had been transplanted successfully, the routine rejection of transplanted organs by the patients’ immune systems limited opportunities for success. With the introduction of cyclosporine, the most commonly used anti-rejection medication, transplantation became more routine.In 1983, Brian Reames, a heart transplant recipient at the Presbyterian University Hospital of Pittsburgh (currently the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, UPMC) found little support for transplant recipients. Brian recognized the need for an organization to help transplant recipients and their families cope with the challenges they encountered during their transplant experience. With Brian’s vision and leadership, and the dedication of other patients at UPMC, the local support group Transplant Recipients International Organization (TRIO) was founded.

In 1986, the Junior League of Pittsburgh and the transplant center at the University of Pittsburgh spearheaded a task force that determined that TRIO could best serve more people through an international, independent parent organization with local chapters worldwide. To achieve this goal, in 1987, TRIO was incorporated as a nonprofit organization. The original group of TRIO members became the Pittsburgh chapter, the founding chapter of TRIO.

In 1994, TRIO relocated its international headquarters to Washington, D.C. Today, TRIO has nearly 4,000 members with forty-six incorporated chapters throughout the world serving its membership and the transplant community through the TRIO mission of “Awareness, Support, Education, and Advocacy.”