In May 2012, Bob Richards learned he was in dire need of a kidney due to polycystic kidney disease, an inherited condition that eventually leads to organ failure.Bob reached out to family and friends, sharing his need for a living donor. Ten people responded, and one was a perfect match.
Less than a year later, he was the fortunate recipient of a living donor kidney from his niece, Roseann Richards-Hines. And since that day, he has not stopped demonstrating his gratitude in countless ways.Among those effort , following Bob’s kidney transplant, he and his wife Kathy initiated “The Roseann Richards-Hines Education and Research Fund” in Transplant Surgery with a generous monetary pledge as a way to honor Roseann.
The Fund has enabled the development and publication of numerous Living Donor education materials for both transplant patients and potential donors, in clinic I-pad registration functionality, development of a peer mentoring program and outreach education.
“It was when I met Vera Ford, the Director of Development, that I truly understood the potential of how a patient education and research fund could help advance the living donor program at MUSC,” said Bob. “The research is superb. The surgeons and scientists are focusing on things that are transforming transplantation.”
MUSC has a long history of surgical excellence in the field of solid o gan transplants. For more than 50 years, the program has continued to innovate and grow. By 2018, the kidney transplant volume ranked among the top 10 in the U.S. Part of this ranking is attributed to the significant g owth of living donation over the past six years.
However, Bob and Kathy’s initial gift did so much more than provide educational materials.
The initial support for The Roseann Richards-Hines Education and Research Fund, in conjunction with meaningful donations from a close-knit group of kidney transplant patients and living donors, helped launch The MUSC Living Donor Institute.
This small group of MUSC transplant recipients and their spouses wanted to streamline their support to ease some of the challenges transplant patients face: financial arriers, disparities in access to care/education, shortage of living donors, and systemic effects of th immunosuppressant drugs.
Their work has been transformative.
In a little over five years, this small force of determined, compassionate people individually and collectively started a patient education fund, hosted a golf tournament (2016-19) which raised more than $500,000 in funds for transplant education, patient support, and have been instrumental in funding immunotherapy research.
This momentum and additional financial acking has helped increase awareness for living donations through media coverage, and complimented funding for a named immunobiology research laboratory. Most recently, a transformational gift from the Patterson Barclay Memorial Foundation dedicating $1,500,000 in memory of a family member.
This gift created The MUSC Transplant Research and Immunobiology Institute (TRII), further investing in organ transplant research at MUSC and helping to move an immunosuppression medication targeted delivery concept closer to clinical trials. The initial pledge Bob and Kathy made has been paid in full. Several family members and friends supported them with additional donations that helped the initial Roseann Richards – Hines fund grow. Kathy and Bob have now initiated a second pledge with MUSC and have also included MUSC in their wills.
They are committed to supporting the Living Donor Institute through the Roseann Richards-Hines Education and Research Fund to drive more living donor transplants and support organ transplant research at MUSC with a personal long-term goal of providing a minimum of $500,000 to the fund.
“There’s always room for better research. There’s always room for educating people,” said Bob. “When you are privileged to see how the medical community is working towards solutions to help save lives, I firmly believe anything Kathy and I can do to provide resources is imperative.” Bob adds that it’s not just about fixing people who are already sick.
“It’s the research side that I think is probably the hidden gem at MUSC,” he said. “They are doing things that are cutting edge in a lot of field. I think the biggest thing is that when you get involved at MUSC, you find out how good they are.”