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Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU announces $28 million gift to develop Children’s Hospital Foundation Heart Center

Largest gift to pediatric health care in VCU’s history

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Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University (CHoR) on Tuesday announced an unprecedented $28 million gift from Children’s Hospital Foundation, the single largest gift to pediatric health care in VCU’s history and one that will establish a pediatric cardiac surgery program in Richmond.

The gift advances pediatric heart care in Central Virginia through the development of the Children’s Hospital Foundation Heart Center at CHoR.

“This is another example of how VCU is helping to ensure that the children of the Richmond region have access to world-class health care in their own backyard,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System. “We have committed again and again that we will help the people who need us, including children, and will be the best partner and colleague for our entire region and state to serve young patients and their families.”

“We are a nationally premier research university that is focused on discovering causes and cures across the spectrum of health care that enable our diverse patient population to live longer and better lives. That mission begins with children,” Rao said.

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU has made many advancements in children’s health thanks to the unwavering support of Children’s Hospital Foundation. Since 2010, the hospital has hired more than 40 new pediatric specialists, opened a dedicated pediatric emergency room, broken ground on a new psychiatric facility, developed new research initiatives and expanded multiple programs.

“Since the merger of Children’s Hospital and VCU Health System in 2010, Children’s Hospital Foundation has provided over $30 million in cash and pledges to pediatric programs like nephrology, orthopaedic surgery, neonatal medicine, critical care, craniofacial care, gastroenterology – and the list goes on,” said Eleanor Goode, chairman of Children’s Hospital Foundation. “With the announcement of our $28 million pledge, our total level of support now exceeds $58 million.”

John Duval, chief executive officer of MCV Hospitals, VCU Health System, said the Children’s Hospital Foundation Heart Center will be led by Thomas Yeh Jr., M.D., Ph.D., a senior board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon. Duval said Yeh’s nearly 20 years of surgical experience, including thousands of successful pediatric cardiac surgeries, and his impressive training pedigree, are what led to his recruitment.

“With this incredible gift and the recruitment of Dr. Thomas Yeh, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU has the ability to stand up a robust heart center to care for any cardiac need a child might have around the clock,” Duval said. “From increased access with same-day appointments to 24/7 coverage of emergent issues, this gift will advance comprehensive cardiac surgical care in our community and prevent families from feeling they must leave Richmond – and their support system – during a critical and stressful time.”

“I’m humbled by the incredible support of Children’s Hospital Foundation,” said Yeh, director of the Children’s Hospital Foundation Heart Center and chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. “It is an honor to provide cardiac care to children and families in Central Virginia, and to give back to one of the institutions that was so fundamental to my training. From fetal cardiology to interventional cardiac catheterization and surgery, our team will ensure that children with congenital or acquired heart disease thrive into adulthood.”

Congenital heart defects are the most common types of birth defects, occurring in about one in 100 live births. Each year in Virginia, 800 babies are born with a congenital heart defect. Nearly 400 of these infants require medical care that may include open heart surgery within the first year after birth. These vital surgeries are often performed on fragile hearts no larger than the size of a walnut.

The $28 million gift will fund the people necessary to support the new comprehensive Children’s Hospital Foundation Heart Center, including the recruitment of Yeh and additional anesthetists, perfusionists, cardiologists, nurses, nurse practitioners and additional specialists for the care of children with congenital and acquired heart disease. VCU Medical Center will supplement the major gift with a $14 million commitment toward equipment and operating expenses.

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