New Gift to Support Heart Transplant Patients and Their Families 

A $1.5 million legacy gift from an anonymous family will help support Duke Heart transplant patients.  

The donors know firsthand what it is to have a family member with a failing heart, and what a miracle a heart transplant can be. They also know how arduous the transplant journey is.

“Our experience was really, really good,” a member of the family said. “But one of the things we saw around us was how much the financial stress impacted families. Our belief that ‘to whom much is given, of them much is expected’ meant we wanted to make a meaningful gift, and that it was important to do so in a way that will directly relieve some of the strain on patients and their families.”

For the donors that meant directing their gift to help with the financial challenges families undergoing transplant face.

“We saw all the challenges that were outside the medical system that insurance doesn't pay for. And so that really lead us to target this gift to help cover those expenses. Families might need transportation, they might need lodging, or something else. And they may not be as fortunate as we are, whether it be to live here or financially be able to take care of those things. We wanted to provide something that would help those families,” another family member added.

Over the last two years, Duke has performed more heart transplants than any other center in the world, helping patients from 10 different states. Duke also accepts high-risk patients that have been turned away from other centers.  

Chetan Patel, MD and Manesh Patel, MD
Chet Patel, MD, Vice Chief for Outreach and Network Development, Duke Heart; Manesh Patel, MD, Chief for Division of Cardiology, Co-director of Duke Heart

“This gift provides much needed support to the families being seen at Duke Heart,” said Chet Patel, MD, vice chief for outreach and network development. “Many patients undergoing complex care such as heart transplant sometimes have to make choices between personal recovery and family wellbeing. A lot of these stressors are financial due to costs not covered by health insurance such as living expenses and health-care related travel. With the help of generous families who have been through these challenges, we can reduce these stressors and allow the patients to focus on healing.”

Duke Heart is one of the world’s premier heart and vascular centers, treating more than 65,000 patients annually. It has the largest heart transplant program in the nation and is recognized both nationally and internationally for its advanced research and treatments. Duke has performed numerous heart transplant firsts as well as other breakthrough procedures that have vastly improved outcomes for those with failing hearts.  

“Our overriding goal at Duke Heart is to improve and innovate care and deliver those therapies as close to patients in their own communities as possible,” said Manesh Patel, MD, Division of Cardiology chief and co-director of Duke Heart. “We are grateful for this family’s gift that will help reduce the barriers to transplant care.” 

For more information or to learn how to help, please contact Jessica Baga May, Senior Director of Development, at or 919-385-3159.  

By Wendy Graber 
February 5, 2024