Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Posts (3)

Oct 3, 2011 · Florida's 25th: The Land for the Campus

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Florida campus makes me think of the gift that started it all:  the land for the campus. The Davis family donated all 400 acres that we have today, and it’s just beautiful. More importantly, it contributes to our patient care. Everyone – patients, staff, and volunteers – enjoy the campus every day, and it makes the experience here unique.

Do you have a favorite story or thought you want to share about the beauty of the Florida campus? I can help get you started. When I bring my children here, they love it. It feels like a park to them!

We welcome you to share your favorite photos, comments and stories, in our comments below, our facebook post or through twitter using the hashtag #MayoFL25. We may just retweet your post!

Keep up with the latest in Florida’s 25th celebrations:
Blog posts tagged with MayoFL25
Tweets tagged with #MayoFL25

Keep up with the latest in Florida’s 25th celebrations:
Blog posts tagged with MayoFL25
Tweets tagged with #MayoFL25

View photos of the Florida campus dated back to the early construction days in 1985

Mar 28, 2011 · Bigger Than a House

Gabriel House of Care

“Patients helping patients” has always been my way of summarizing philanthropy at Mayo Clinic. After all, most benefactors are patients, and the gifts they make help other patients, either right away (think buildings and new equipment) or years later (think scholarships for bright young minds or support for research that leads to new treatments).

But I’m rethinking that – in a good way – after the Gabriel House of Care dedication on March 17, 2011, at Mayo Clinic in Florida. A 30-room, 40,000-square-foot house that opens in April, Gabriel House of Care will provide extended-stay lodging to transplant and cancer patients. It was built entirely with philanthropy, and just about all of the benefactors are patients, including the lead benefactors, Jorge and Leslie Bacardi. Is there a more concrete – forgive the pun – example of “patients helping patients?”

Grace Gregory

Grace Gregory speaking during the Gabriel House of Care dedication

But Gabriel House of Care is more than that and in so many ways. It’s bigger than just Mayo Clinic patients. For example, the organization managing the house, St. Andrew’s Lighthouse, was formed by people in Jacksonville who recognized that visiting transplant and cancer patients needed a home away from home to survive and thrive after treatment. Now, others across the community are lining up to help, volunteering their time at Gabriel House of Care. More people are needed, by the way, so if you have an inkling and are close by, give the house a call (904-821-8995).

And then there is the Bacardis’ story and their gift, which is a lifeline to Mayo Clinic patients and the family of Mr. Bacardi’s organ donor, Christopher Gregory, a 19-year-old college student who passed away after suffering a brain aneurysm. After Mr. Bacardi’s double-lung transplant three years ago, he and his wife vowed to repay that gift of life. Their philanthropy for Gabriel House of Care is part of that, as well as an expression of gratitude to the lung transplant team at Mayo Clinic. But they have done more than make that gift.

Jorge Bacardi and Eric Gregory

Jorge Bacardi hugs Eric Gregory, the father of Mr. Bacardi’s organ donor, during the Gabriel House of Care dedication

They also reached out to the Gregory family, and something magical has happened. Both families have met. They have traveled together. The Bacardis send letters and photographs regularly to the Gregorys, sharing the life they are leading “with Chris,” as the Bacardis like to say. And the name, Gabriel House of Care, is their way of paying tribute to Christopher, because Gabriel was the name they gave him before they learned his identity.

What has it all accomplished? Grace Gregory, Christopher’s mother, summed it up well, during last week’s dedication ceremony, where she spoke to a crowd of more than 200 people, saying, “As we stand here, in front of this beautiful, healing place, Gabriel House of Care, to know that everyone who walks into this building will find a warm, caring home and a place to heal as a tribute to my son makes my wounded heart soar.”

It makes my heart soar, too. And I guess that’s why it hits me that “patients helping patients” isn’t adequate for describing philanthropy at Mayo Clinic. It’s about people helping people. Lots of people. And in extraordinary ways.

View more photos of the Gabriel House of Care and the dedication day on our flickr page.

Feb 23, 2009 · A Second Life

Job description: Meet and write about the grateful patients who become benefactors of Mayo Clinic, their gifts and the researchers and physicians who use these gifts to move medicine forward.

That’s my job – if you can call something as wonderful as that a job – as a writer for the Department of Development. But so often, my stories are really only starting points for much better ones that continue long after I’ve done my work.

Hal Freeman, M.D., is a great example. When I wrote about Dr. Freeman last year, we talked about his life-saving liver transplant at Mayo, his gratitude for his care and his plans for the future. What’s he done since then? Live.

For example, he’s gone SCUBA diving in the Carribbean, sailed on board the Queen Mary 2 and he’s moved to New York City, to enjoy the operas at Lincoln Center and many other cultural activities that are his passions. He also is continuing his quest to author THE authoritative guide for patients to get the most out of their visits with their doctors.

No one would have predicted any of this for Dr. Freeman. Just a few years ago, he was the victim of a seemingly incurable disease and in a different hospital, where physicians’ only plans were to “make him comfortable.” Even after he decided to seek care elsewhere, he couldn’t find a place willing to give him a transplant because of doubts about his ability to survive the operation.

Now, he’s living a second life. It reminds me of the phrase “gift of life,” that we so often here about organ donation. It doesn’t sound cliche in this context. It also makes me think about his gift to Mayo and the progress it will generate. “Mayo Clinic saved my life,” he told me during our interview. “With their experience and patient volumes, they have a vital opportunity to make a lasting contribution to research and help future patients.”

What will that contribution be? Maybe it will be a discovery that helps make liver transplantation safer and more widely available? Or maybe it will help patients before they reach the transplantation stage, so that people with liver disease can lead a first life without interruption.

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