A Will to Make a Difference
When Robert Kent was born at the Boston Lying-in Hospital—a founding institution of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)—his delivery, post-partum care, and week-long hospital stay cost one hundred dollars.
“That was a lot of money then,” says Kent, who kept the hand-written hospital bill sent to his parents in 1937. “For middle-class families like mine, healthcare has never been cheap. However, I believe when people do what they can to support things that are important in their lives, they can make a big difference.”
Kent, who has continued his care at BWH throughout his adult life, recently named the hospital as a beneficiary of his will. His forward-thinking gift was inspired by his doctors, Patrick O’Gara, MD, director of clinical cardiology, and the late Lawrence Cohn, MD, who was the chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery and a pioneer in valve surgery and heart transplantation.
“My father died after suffering a heart attack,” says Kent. “That was a warning to me when, thirty years later, I started to feel out of breath. I told my primary care physician and he recommended I see Dr. O’Gara immediately. After examining me, he brought in Dr. Cohn, who looked at my echocardiogram and said it was bad—so bad that I needed surgery right away. I said to myself: 'If you have the guts to say that to me, a perfect stranger, I will trust you with my life.’”
Cohn repaired two heart valves using techniques he himself had invented. Kent recovered quickly in the intensive care unit under the supervision of O’Gara, whom Kent credits for his good health in the years since.
“I want to honor the great fortune I’ve had as a patient of Brigham and Women’s Hospital,” he says. “If it weren’t for my doctors there, who knows where I would be today.”
Considering the hospital’s future and his own, Kent also chose to support BWH through a charitable gift annuity, which provides him with an immediate charitable tax deduction and income for life. Upon Kent’s passing, the remaining funds will support the hospital.
“I see the charitable gift annuity as allowing donors of all incomes to be involved in good work and invest in themselves,” says Kent. “It is comforting to know I can do my part to support something bigger than myself. Anyone who gives—no matter how much—has the opportunity to be part of something extraordinary.”