In a Heartbeat

One grateful couple’s gift to establish a heart failure center has changed the lives of hundreds of patients.

>> A heart transplant at Cleveland Clinic in 1995 gave George Kaufman six more years to spend with his family — and enough time to become a proud grandfather, four times over.

George and Linda Kaufman

"I love Cleveland Clinic," says his wife, Linda. "It was miraculous. In 12 days, he was fortunate to get a heart."

To say “thank you” for his life-saving surgery — and to help other patients and their families — the businessman and his wife made a substantial gift to Cleveland Clinic, establishing the George M. and Linda H. Kaufman Center for Heart Failure in 1997.

“My husband lived six years with his new heart. And every summer, we would go to Cleveland Clinic for a report on how the Center was doing,” says Linda. “This Center was special to George, and for me, it really has transformed my life.”

It’s also transformed the lives of hundreds of patients … and counting.

One Gift, Hundreds Impacted 

My life is so much better knowing I have a future.

>> Since opening in 1997, the Kaufman Center has become one of the top treatment sites in the country. Hundreds of patients have received new hearts there, and hundreds more have had mechanical devices implanted as a bridge to transplant or to resolve heart problems. The Center also conducts research into managing acute heart failure, improving long-term survival and minimizing complications after surgery.

“My life is so much better knowing I have a future,” says John DeMarie of Lemont, Ill., one of the many patients treated at the Kaufman Center and helped by the gift.

A congenital heart defect caused John’s heart — and later his liver — to weaken over time. After spending nearly a year in the hospital awaiting his transplant, John has been given a second chance. “It truly is a miracle,” he says.

“As research grants disappear and funding sources become more limited, philanthropy and gifts like the Kaufman’s are needed to generate advances in medicine.” -- Nicholas G. SmediraMD, Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Cleveland Clinic


Because the Kaufmans returned yearly to Cleveland Clinic for follow-up care — traveling from their home in Norfolk, Va. — they were able to see the results of their gift and, says Linda, how “the new discoveries seemed to grow.” 

The Kaufmans were especially pleased with how the center became a model of care. “One of the things that makes me so proud is all the people who have trained at the Kaufman Center and then gone on to run other programs in large, well-known hospitals. My husband was so pleased that we could help further the education and practice of so many of these younger people who will be the heart-failure heroes of the future.”

Listen to Your Heart

>> Linda has continued her generous support since her husband passed away in 2001. Because she was raised to believe in giving back to the community, she views philanthropy as a way of life. After all, you always have something to be thankful for.

“I received such a major gift with my husband getting a new heart,” she says. “That’s the supreme gift, and I’ve been saying ‘thank you’ to Cleveland Clinic ever since.”

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