The David Nicklas Organ Donor Awareness Foundation based in Grand Prairie, Texas is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Mission Statement

The Nicklas Foundation is dedicated to promoting organ donor awareness and providing fully furnished rent-free housing for transplant patients who live too far from a transplant center.

The Nicklas Foundation History

In October 1993, Rodney DeBaun from Grand Prairie, Texas, received a lifesaving heart transplant at the age of 36 years and his donor was 22-year old Air Force Second Lieutenant David Nicklas.

Prior to the transplant, Rodney was a real estate developer and athlete in perfect health.  He noticed his stamina had been dropping and thought he had the flu when he went to a doctor in June 1993.  He was told his heart was severely and permanently damaged and he only had a short time to live without a transplant, so he went on the transplant list in August of that year.

David Nicklas was valedictorian of his 1989 Graford High School class.  In June 1993, he graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant assigned to Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.  In October 1993, David’s vehicle was stolen on a Friday, he got a motorcycle on Saturday, and was involved in a tragic accident on Sunday resulting in David being placed on life support.

About 6 weeks prior to David’s accident, David’s grandfather, W. H. “Lucky” Bramlett, had been introduced to Rodney in a brief meeting by a mutual friend, Ken Johnson.  The night the family was asked to make the decision to consider donating David’s organs, Lucky was awoken from a deep sleep when he felt as if something physically jerked him up into a sitting position and the name “Rodney” flashed through his mind.


The family made the ultimate decision to donate David’s organs, but only if his heart could go to Rodney.  They were told it was unheard of for a donor family to specify a direct donation recipient, especially to someone not a family member, but the family held fast in their decision.

When Rodney’s doctor found out about the donation, he cautioned Rodney to not get too excited as the heart would more than likely not be a match.  Surprisingly, David’s heart turned out to be a 100% match and Rodney received his gift of life from David on October 20, 1993 and was released just 9 days after his transplant!

After meeting his donor’s family over Thanksgiving 1994, in 1995, Rodney and his wife, Isibelle, created the David Nicklas Organ Donor Awareness Foundation in memory of David.  At that time, the two families basically became one.  Since 1996, David’s sister, Rebecca Nicklas-Kelley, began working with the foundation, making it unique to be operated by both recipient and donor families.

As a pilot who owns planes, Rodney originally began providing no cost air transport to transplant patients living too far from a transplant center.  The Foundation also participated in air shows across the nation to promote organ donor awareness.

Beginning in 2004, The Foundation began offering rent-free housing to transplant patients who live too far from a transplant center.  To date, we have helped nearly 100 families from 15 states, with transplant patients as young as 4 months old and up to 72 years of age.  The organ transplants have included hearts, kidneys, lungs, double lungs, and livers.  When possible, we also proudly provide no cost air transport to wounded military veterans.


Aerofirma –

Prairie Gate Apartments –

South Collins Self Storage –

The Retreat –

Wright Senior Apartments –

Children First Counseling Center –

Crisis Response Ministry –

GPFD Hearts & Hoses –

GPPD Explorers Post 086 –

Grand Prairie DeMolay –

Grand Prairie Santa Cop –

Grand Prairie United Charities –

LifeLine for Families –

La Quinta Inn & Suites Dallas Grand Prairie South –


  • Isibelle DeBaun, President
  • Rodney DeBaun, Vice-President
  • Rebecca Nicklas-Kelley, Secretary/Treasurer

Board of Directors

  • Chase DeBaun
  • Heath DeBaun
  • Terry Hawkins
  • David C. Nicklas

Director of Operations

  • Rebecca Nicklas-Kelley

Marketing Director

  • Julie DeBaun

Brand Awareness Ambassador

  • Vandella Menifee

Become a Donor

Over 112.000 men, women, and children are awaiting lifesaving organ transplants in the U.S.
Every 10 minutes another person is added to the waiting list.
About 22 people awaiting organs die every day.