KU Health System receives its largest gift ever

photo by: Contributed rendering

Artist's rendering of the planned Cambridge Tower A expansion project at the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas.

Story updated 6:47 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018:

The University of Kansas Health System on Thursday announced its largest gift ever — a $66 million donation from The Sunderland Foundation.

The donation is earmarked for an inpatient care unit specializing in blood cancers and disorders, which will fill three currently unused floors of Cambridge Tower A on the Kansas City, Kan., campus, said Jill Chadwick, a spokeswoman for the health system, in a news release.

Chadwick said the gift will be the final piece of Cambridge Tower A, completing the $100 million fundraising campaign that the health system had started in 2014.

“Charlie Sunderland and his family didn’t just complete our capital campaign, they have transformed this health system forever,” said Greg Graves, the board chair of the University of Kansas Hospital Authority, in the release. Graves and his wife, Deanna, chaired the $100 million campaign.

In a video provided by the health system, Sunderland, secretary and treasurer of the Sunderland Foundation, said he had served on the KU Hospital Authority Board for 18 years.

“I’m a stem-cell transplant survivor,” Sunderland said. “A happily healthy guy cruising along, this is a place that is near and dear to my heart.”

The new unit for the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and Division of Hematologic Malignancies & Cellular Therapy will be where patients with disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and sickle cell disease will be treated, the release said. It will expand inpatient treatment and care facilities and add a family center and patient education center. The release said that one goal of the new unit is to support patients who are undergoing immunotherapy treatments that can require significant inpatient time.

In the past 10 years, The University of Kansas Health System program has more than doubled the number of stem cell transplants performed annually, the release said.

Joseph McGuirk, who directs the health system’s blood and marrow transplants team, said in the release that the new unit would be able to serve more than 2,500 patients over the next 10 years.

The Sunderland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as president of the Ash Grove Cement Company for 33 years, according to the foundation’s website.

“We primarily make contributions to nonprofit construction projects where people in distress can find hope and healing,” Charlie Sunderland said in the health system’s video. “Construction is our vehicle, but we’re really investing in people.”

The foundation also helped seed the campaign when it began in 2014 with a $2 million gift.

Bob Page, president and chief executive officer of The University of Kansas Health System, expressed his gratitude for the gift in the release.

“This enormous gift by The Sunderland Foundation reflects the confidence and faith Charlie, (foundation President Kent Sunderland) and their family hold for the health system,” Page said. “It’s a great honor.”


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