Grateful transplant patient plans her legacy

Patient Stories

July 11, 2019

In 2010, Elaine Hoffman was a busy grandmother and wife splitting her time between homes in California and Indiana. Decades before, in the 1970s, she had contracted hepatitis C through a blood transfusion. She was told that someday she might need a liver transplant, but that seemed far off in the future. However, during her stay in California in the winter of 2010, Hoffman realized she was becoming sicker. Feeling confusion, memory loss and symptoms similar to dementia, Hoffman sought the advice of her physicians at Cedars-Sinai. They confirmed what Hoffman had suspected: a liver transplant was imperative, and it couldn’t wait.

However, the transplant list at that time in California was long, especially for a patient with a rare blood type, as Hoffman had. Facing a wait that could take up to a year while growing sicker, Hoffman took the advice of a friend in Indiana who suggested she call IU Health, renowned for its transplant programs. As an Indiana resident, Hoffman was eligible. She returned to Indiana, where she met with Marwan Ghabril, MD, an IU Health hepatologist. He had good news: No one with her blood type was on the waiting list. Ten days later, a donor was found.

Hoffman’s liver transplant not only saved her life; it meant a permanent return to Indiana, so she could continue her treatment at IU Health. She was so grateful for IU Health’s swift action and unparalleled care, that she has included a bequest to IU Health in her estate plans. Her intention is to help other transplant patients and their families.

Incorporating philanthropy into estate planning is a responsible way to ensure your legacy has the impact you wish. Marya Jones, director of planned giving for IU Health Foundation, is an attorney with extensive experience in estate planning.

“It’s a perfect marriage personally and professionally for me,” Jones said. “I get to do what I love, which is help people make wonderful, meaningful gifts and create a legacy that puts a seal on their life experience.” She was also drawn to IU Health because of the care her family members received at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

Jones recognizes there are plenty of barriers to planned giving, including the difficult nature of anticipating one’s death. She says another hurdle is convincing people they can leave enough to make a difference.

“That is really the key thing about planned giving--it gives everyone from the wealthiest person to the person who's not as well-off the opportunity to say thank you for the care they received, or to honor someone they’ve loved,” she said.

As for Hoffman, now 75, life after her transplant is full of joy and hope. She thrives on spending time with her family and enjoying her great-grandchildren. She said her gift just seemed like the right choice.

“I think people forget about going beyond their family, and using their life and death to honor others,” she said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for IU Health. This wasn’t something that was required. But this was what I felt was my obligation to them, for what they did for me.”

Jones encourages anyone interested in discussing planned giving opportunities to contact her. She is happy to collaborate with attorneys and financial advisors, and is committed to finding a way to meet each donor’s individual needs. To explore how giving to IU Health can be part of your estate planning, contact Jones at 317.962.1891 or mjones68@iuhealth.org, or visit iuhealthfoundation.org.

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