Monday, March 21, 2011

Gabriel House of Care

Friday night was the open house for the Gabriel House of Care on the grounds of the Jacksonville, Florida Mayo Clinic.  It's a hospitality house for people in the transplant process and those that are having caner treatments.  It isn't free to stay there, but it's considerably lower than a regular hotel and looks like a 4 star resort!

The donation that got the ball rolling on the Gabriel House was from a lung transplant patient, Jorge Bacardi and his wife, Leslie.  Pictured next them is the donor, Christopher. 

The plaque above says:

What inspires acts of great philanthropy?  For Jorge and Leslie Bacardi of the Bahamas, the answer is a stranger's extraordinary gift, which Mr. Bacardi described unforgettably in a 2008 letter to Mayo Clinic:
"I have just undergone one of the most critical surgeries on this planet.  I have come through this ordeal in astonishing fashion, thanks to Mayo Clinic, Cesar Keller and his magnificent lung transplant team and, most of all, to the grand generosity of one young man - and unknown entity I have named 'Gabriel' - and his selfless act of organ donation.

"I have a debt that is impossible to repay.  Nevertheless, I am determined to honor and give thanks to Gabriel, as well as the many other 'Gabriels,' both alive and dead, and to the medical staff at Mayo Clinic who help people like me achieve this miraculous rebirth."

Mr. and Mrs. Bacardi later discovered their angel "Gabriel" - Christopher Gregory, a 19-year-old college student from Maryland who passed away unexpectedly during his first year at Loyola University in New Orleans.  Born from Christopher's sacrifice, a passion to honor organ donors and a desire to celebrate all caregivers who make the gift of life possible, the Bacardis' story, the comforts here and modern medicine combine to create rebirth for generations to come.

Mr. and Mrs. Bacardi, of the Bacardi Rum family, donated a very large sum of money to get the ball rolling on Gabriel House.  The house will be run by the non profit organization, St. Andrews Lighthouse, Inc. and will have a live-in house manager, a full staff, volunteers and of course, the house will be full of patients and caregivers.  St. Andrews Lighthouse has been housing transplant families for years now, but only had a few rooms in their transplant house. 

In the Gabriel House their mission to make sure that everyone who stays will find friendship, compassion and support during such a difficult time. 

There are 30 bedrooms with private bath - as you can see, the bedrooms have hardwood floors.  It's so much easier to keep sanitary conditions in the rooms with a hard surface floor.  I'm so excited to see that.  There are four laundry areas, one per wing,  and a fitness room.  My friends in the liver transplant group, Matt and Patti are demonstrating the machines :)

There are several sitting areas, this one is near the entrance, a meditation/reflection room, library and large dining room.  The furniture hasn't arrived yet for the dining room, in this photo.  These are clearly rented.

The kitchen is huge.  In fact the photo in the mosaic is just half of the kitchen.  It's huge.  There is a pantry area where all residents can store their food, too.  The game room/TV area is on the second floor.  I can see that being a nice gathering space.

I am so grateful that the Bacardi's chose to give this most generous gift to Mayo and I can't wait to see how beneficial it is to all who come and stay.  I'm sure that I will still be able to rent my condos to transplant patients, as not everyone wants to live in a group setting like this.  There is aenough business to go around :)

If you would like more information for the Gabriel House of Care, on the grounds of Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, please use the information below.

Gabriel House of Care
4599 Worrall Way
Jacksonville, FL 32224
Phone (904) 821-8995
Fax (904) 821-8997

I can't end a post like this without asking that you get information ( on how to become an organ donor if you haven't already signed up, tell your family of your wishes and help save lives.   Organ donation has saved the life of so many people that I know and I bet it's saved the life of someone you know, too! 

I should add, for those of you who don't know me, that my husband had a liver transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville in Dec of 2005.  Someone saved my husband's life and we are also so very grateful.

Have a fabulous day!


Dysfunctional Mom said...

What a beautiful place, and an inspiring story!

lisleman said...

good to know things like this happen - thanks for the informative post. I have a niece that works in organ donation. I believe she collects the organs.
all the best.

Keetha Broyles said...

What a gorgeous and much needed facility.

Ann in the UP said...

What an interesting and heartwarming story. We have had two infants on our prayer chain, one who has been undergoing transplant surgery, and one a series of heart surgeries. It amazes me that these things are now done so routinely and successfully. Though it is always a trial for the families, of course, and the outcome is always in question. Thanks for keeping this issue in front of us, now and then.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

The Gabriel House of Care is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.