Stanford Medicine receives $80 million donation for maternal-fetal medicine

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Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital received a gift of $80 million on Feb. 16 from Elizabeth and Bruce Dunlevie to advance research and care in the field of maternal-fetal medicine. The gift is the largest ever from individuals to the hospital. 

“During the crucial period from pre-conception through pregnancy and a baby’s first days, we have the opportunity to improve the trajectory of entire lives,” Stanford School of Medicine dean Lloyd Minor told Stanford Medicine News. “So many families will benefit from the people, programs and facilities that will receive support from the Dunlevies’ visionary gift.” 

$50 million of the gift will go towards expanding the Children’s Hospital’s labor and delivery unit, creating 14 private suites and an antepartum unit for mothers who are about to give birth. Since nearly two-thirds of expectant mothers come to Lucile Packard with high-risk pregnancies, the gift will help Stanford to better cater to their needs. 

Yasser El-Sayed, division chief of maternal-fetal medicine, said the gift will be transformative for patient care, as well as for research. 

“We now have a better appreciation of how pregnancy complications affect a lifelong trajectory of health for the mother, the baby and the family,” El-Sayed said in an interview with The Daily. “Because of this, the discoveries we will make and the care we will provide will have an impact on the health and well-being of generations of mothers, newborns and families.”

The remaining $30 million will go towards supporting research on diseases that affect pregnancy and fetal development. El-Sayed said the Dunlevies’ gift will help scientists dig deeper into the underlying causes of pregnancy disorders, such as understanding how heart disease and diabetes play a role in these disorders, or developing minimally-invasive procedures to repair defects before birth. 

El-Sayed said this gift will help the department fund research in several spectrums, including basic science research, clinical trials and population health studies, providing a “flourishing terrain of investigation and science within a state of the art facility.”

Elizabeth Dunlevie, who also serves as the chair of the board of Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, said her family’s gift was inspired by the care one of her children received at the hospital nearly 30 years ago. 

“It’s hard to fully explain what this hospital means to me and my family,” Dunlevie told Stanford Medicine News. “Packard Children’s Hospital was our community hospital where we came to have our healthy babies born. Later, when one of our children became extremely ill, Packard was the place that saved my daughter’s life.”

Dunlevie hopes that their gift will lead to healthier mothers and children in the future. “When you’ve had an experience like this, you want to make sure that generations to follow have even better experiences,” she said. 

Paul King, president and CEO of Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford Children’s Health, praised the impact of this “incredible gift.” 

“My heart is full knowing that Elizabeth and Bruce’s gift embodies Lucile Packard’s intent for this hospital to be both a leading academic medical center as well as a community hospital available to all who need us,” he told Stanford Medicine News.

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Sophia Nesamoney is from Atherton, California. She is a STEM Research Reporter who hopes to pursue careers in medicine and creative writing. Contact her at nsophia ‘at’ stanford.edu.