Donation supports continuing education for doctors and nurses during COVID-19

May 25, 2021
Kambis and Ruth Ghowanlu,  Isabel and Jacob Driggers, Lee Wilson Ghowanlu and Sasha Ghowanlu
L-R: The late Kambis Ghowanlu and his surviving wife, Ruth Ghowanlu; daughter, Isabel Driggers, D.M.D., and her husband, Jacob Driggers; daughter-in-law, Lee Wilson Ghowanlu; and son, Sasha Ghowanlu.

Longtime MUSC supporter and graduate of the MUSC James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine, Isabel Driggers, D.M.D., along with her husband, Jacob, recently decided to further invest in our community of critical care doctors and nurses with a generous gift, creating the Kambis Ghowanlu Endowed Education Fund in Pulmonology.

The fund will be used to support the continuing education of doctors, nurses and staff in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at MUSC.

The Driggers’ gift has a deep personal connection. They dedicated it in memory of Isabel’s late father, Kambis Ghowanlu, who lost a tough battle with COVID-19. A native of Tehran, Iran, Kambis studied mechanical engineering in Hannover, Germany, where he met and married his beloved wife, Ruth. The two eventually settled in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and started Technico, Inc., a manufacturing business that their son, Sasha Ghowanlu, currently runs.

Kambis was 76 years old with no known pre-existing conditions when he contracted the virus.  After experiencing low levels of oxygen for several days, he was taken to the emergency room in Spartanburg. Kambis’ condition continued to worsen, and Isabel began reaching out to other pulmonologists in the state. She eventually connected with Gerard Silvestri, M.D., professor of medicine and lung cancer pulmonologist at MUSC, who helped to consult with the doctors in Spartanburg. Eventually, after three weeks, Isabel and her family decided to transfer Kambis to MUSC. Kambis passed away on Nov. 28, 2020, four weeks after initially contracting the virus.

Two days after their father’s passing, Isabel and her brother Sasha, along with their spouses, Jacob Driggers and Lee Wilson Ghowanlu, were inspired to start a Facebook fundraiser for the MUSC Foundation to support the continuing education of nurses and doctors in the Pulmonary Division at MUSC. The fundraiser quickly took off and in just two weeks, 280 donors contributed over $41,000, making it the foundation’s most successful Facebook fundraiser to date.

Isabel and her family were “amazed” by the generous support from friends and family.

“It’s a testament of how many people my father has impacted,” Isabel said.

Isabel and her husband decided to contribute an additional leadership gift to establish the Kambis Ghowanlu Endowed Education Fund in Pulmonology.

“During our experience with my father, I found there was a lot of mixed information among the different medical providers across the state on the best treatment methods for the virus, likely because it is still so new,” said Isabel. “As the leading academic health system in the state, we felt MUSC was uniquely positioned to overcome COVID-19 and to spread education throughout the state.”

“We want to make a difference in somebody’s life, give somebody the chance my father didn’t have,” said Isabel. “It is our hope that MUSC will use our gift to educate top doctors and nurses, and improve health care quality and safety for patients across the state, especially during this critical time of the COVID-19 pandemic.”