Memorial Health Recognizes Generous Donor and Presents Renowned Speaker

(May 7, 2014) - Savannah resident and heart attack survivor Judith Thomas, Ph.D., made a $2 million donation to launch a fundraising campaign to expand the Heart & Vascular Institute at Memorial University Medical Center (MUMC). The expansion will renovate the fifth floor of the facility, add 32 critical-care beds, and make cardiovascular services more accessible and efficient for patients and their families.

Thomas was also instrumental in bringing renowned physician Ben Carson to Savannah for a lecture and fund-raising event at the Westin this evening. Proceeds from the event will go toward the Heart & Vascular Institute expansion.

"This cause is one that is, literally, close to my heart," said Thomas. "I've worked in healthcare much of my life, so I have always known the deadly impact of heart disease, for both men and women. But when I had my own heart attack in 2008, I experienced first-hand the life-saving power of a talented physician like Dr. John Spellman and the skilled team he works with at Memorial. I want to help our community keep this kind of care right here in Savannah, which is a challenge since the need is constantly growing and medical technology is expensive. I hope our community will join me and the others who have already stepped up to help us complete this vitally needed project."

Thomas will honor her cardiologist, John Spellman, M.D., by naming the soon to be expanded fifth floor the Spellman-Thomas Wing. The expansion project will cost $9 million, most of which must come from philanthropic donations. Donors have the option of naming rooms and services in honor or memory of someone.

"It is only fitting that the hospital that pioneered open-heart surgery in Savannah continue its vigorous pursuit of excellence in the treatment of cardiovascular patients," said Maggie Gill, president and CEO of Memorial Health.

More than 300 people purchased tickets for the Ben Carson lecture to support the Heart & Vascular Institute. Carson is a renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who developed groundbreaking surgical techniques for the separation of conjoined twins. His Savannah lecture is about the value of risk-taking.

For more information on how you can contribute to the Heart & Vascular Institute expansion, please contact Mark Howard at the Memorial Health Foundation, 912-350-6381.