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Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Receive $40 Million Gift

Dr. James Eason, center, and his team in the operating room.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH) and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) today announced a $40 million gift, the largest single donation in the healthcare system’s nearly 100-year history.

The anonymous gift will be used to transform the current Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute (a partnership between MLH and UTHSC) from a leading transplant program, to a world-class research program and a progressive, healing environment for patients and families alike.

“This generous gift will greatly impact the scope and level of care provided by our transplant program,” said Gary Shorb, CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. “Since 2006, we’ve been on a journey to achieve national excellence for our transplant efforts, and this gift will serve as a catalyst to not only transform our Transplant Institute, but all of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

Our mission at Methodist Le Bonheur is to serve all areas of Memphis, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay, and philanthropic gifts such as this provide the bridge between what we can afford and what we can envision. We are honored to receive this gift — the largest ever in our nearly 100-year history.”

The gift will be used for a new, innovative, comprehensive transplant facility at Methodist University Hospital that will provide state-of-the-art and easily accessible accommodations for all stages of the transplant process — from pre-transplant testing, to the transplant operation itself and lifelong post-transplant care.

The funds will also be used for pioneering research in conjunction with UTHSC. As one of the busiest transplant centers in the United States with one of the most diverse patient populations, the expanded research will be critical in examining outcomes across racial and socio-economic groups, while further building upon our research mission and improving patient care and outcomes.

“This gift will further our vision of Memphis being a healthcare hub not only for the Southeast, but for the entire United States,” said James D. Eason, MD, UTHSC Professor of Surgery and Director of the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute. “The University of Tennessee has a long history with solid organ transplantation, successfully performing the first kidney transplant in Tennessee more than 40 years ago. Our vision is to expand upon that success, while further developing the research mission and improving the quality of life and the life expectancy of transplant patients. We will use this generous donation for groundbreaking research centered on further improving the outcomes for transplant patients and providing a world-class patient and family-centered care experience. This gift is a testament to the great work being done in Memphis.”

The Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute has been recognized for its success with kidney, liver, kidney-pancreas and pancreas transplants, ranking among the top 10 liver transplant programs and top 15 overall transplant programs (by volume) in the nation. The Transplant Institute is known for its innovative steroid-free liver transplantation. The program offers hope to patients with conditions such as kidney failure and end-stage liver diseases. More than 6,000 transplants have been performed at the Institute, more than 1,000 liver transplants and 1,000 kidney transplants have been performed at Methodist University Hospital and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital under Dr. Eason’s leadership since 2006.

More information about endowed chairs and master plans for the new Transplant Institute will be forthcoming as details are finalized.