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From One Family to Another: Grateful Family Gives Back to Tufts MC "Family"

Sam King and his big brother David shared the same birthday. Four years apart, the brothers grew up happy and healthy; loving members in a close-knit family.

Sam’s great passions were the guitar and rowing; he played in a rock band and served as coxswain on his high school crew team. When he was in his late teens, however, Sam’s life took a sharp turn with the emergence of schizophrenia. Years of struggle with mental illness put him through “hell and back,” recalls David, but as he reached his 40’s, Sam had largely overcome the disease with the constant support of his family. So when Sam suffered catastrophic heart failure in April 2010, his family once again rallied to his side.

At the community hospital where Sam was first brought, the Emergency Room doctor quickly saw the gravity of his condition and instructed the family to “send Sam to Boston.” When David asked the physician where he would send a loved one in this condition, he replied, “Tufts Medical Center.” And so began the family’s relationship with caregivers in cardiology, otolaryngology, psychiatry, radiology, and infectious disease medicine at Tufts MC. Following emergency heart surgery to implant a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD), Sam spent four months in intensive care. His condition was so complex that staff members from all departments became the Kings’ caregivers. “At this time in our family’s life, we felt like we had another family to rely on.”

With the support of Tufts Medical Center and his own mental and spiritual discipline, Sam King recovered from this ordeal and, for two years, he lived a remarkably normal life. “We knew he would ultimately need a heart transplant,” says David. “He was living on the edge of technology.” Sadly, Sam passed away in August 2012. Grateful for the extra time they had with him, the family is honoring Sam with an unrestricted gift to the Tufts Medical Center Fund, for use wherever the need is greatest. “It took a village to heal Sam,” explains David King. “Tufts Medical Center was that village.”

The family of Samuel King chose to give to the Tufts Medical Center Fund in order to support critical areas throughout Tufts Medical Center. Sam’s family had considered directing their gift to a particular department, but, according to his brother David, “Sam was treated by caregivers from many areas and my family was sustained by those same people. We miss our friends at Tufts MC; it was always a joy to see them. That’s why my parents, my two older brothers and I are so committed to making an unrestricted gift, since there were no restrictions on the care our family received.”

The Tufts Medical Center Fund is instrumental in helping us provide the high quality, compassionate medical care that our patients have come to expect, while allowing us to react quickly to the changing needs of health care. Every gift goes directly to patient care, research to improve medical treatment, training of our next generation of physicians and enhancements to the facilities where it all takes place.