Making Transplants More Accessible Through Philanthropy

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Making Transplants More Accessible Through Philanthropy

Community and philanthropic support has been instrumental in furthering the lifesaving missions of University Transplant Center, the collaborative transplant institute of University Health and UT Health San Antonio.

In 2007, Valero Energy Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Klesse announced that the company was donating $5 million to UT Health San Antonio. “The $5 million Valero gift allowed us to begin our biorepository, which is a big part of our research efforts,” said Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, director of the Transplant Center.

“Because of Valero, we haven’t had to rely on private industry research,” said Jennifer Milton, RN, the Transplant Center’s chief administrative officer. “We’ve had permanent funding to start, grow and protect those samples, and because of where we’re located, our biorepository has a large collection of tissue of people from Hispanic descent.”

“Philanthropy helps us to recruit outstanding faculty and staff and bolster biomedical research,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “The greatest honor is that someone else recognizes your excellence, and so much so that they are willing to give a gift to help continue to advance that excellence.

One of these gifts from the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation enabled the creation of the Center for Life — a unique center of organ preservation in University Hospital. The Transplant Center recently presented data at a national conference showing that the longer a donor stays in an intensive care unit such as the Center for Life, the more organs will be transplanted.

“To have that gift for the Center for Life from Kronkosky, which is a gift that says we trust you, we believe your idea, now go change the world, I think is remarkable,” Milton said. “I remember Dr. Cigarroa giving a tour to the Kronkosky group about the Center for Life, and we had such clarity that we were going to put in place a clinically game-changing center, that we were absolutely going to save more people, bring more comfort to donor families and train our physicians better,” Milton said. “We had no doubt in our mind.”

Joan Glicksman Wish, who in 1970 received the first successful kidney transplant in the center’s history, later gave back in the form of a perpetual endowment. Today her gift supports transplant grand rounds, which are presentations designed to educate today’s team members and all the others who will follow in their footsteps tomorrow. To support other transplant patients like Joan, consider making a charitable donation to the Transplant Endowment Fund.