The owner of Loma Linda and other local restaurants is so grateful for the life-saving heart transplant he received 11 years ago, that he and his wife are giving $1 million to help revive the program in Toledo.
The $1 million donation from Alfred Mundt, 73, of Maumee, and his fellow restaurateur wife, Adela, will be used to bring a transplant-congestive heart failure cardiologist to the University of Toledo Medical Center, a critical component in reactivating a heart-transplant program.
Mr. Mundt received the transplant at the former Medical College of Ohio, which suspended the program about four years ago.
"The last 11 years that I have had somebody else's heart, it's a treasure," said Mr. Mundt, who suffered his first heart attack in 1983.
"I would like to share that with somebody," he added of other heart patients. "I think they deserve to get everything they can. We're very happy that we can do that."
The search is under way for a cardiac transplant surgeon - the other doctor necessary for the program - and the $2.8 million UT Heart and Vascular Center officially opens today.
Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, a trustee, retired surgeon, and professor emeritus, and his family made a foundational pledge of $500,000 for an endowed professorship in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery that will bear his name.
The three moves combined - having endowed professorship positions for the two needed doctors and opening the center - will make it possible to begin doing heart transplants again next year, said Dr. Jeffrey Gold, dean of UT's college of medicine and executive vice president and provost for health affairs.
"It's a lot of things happening at one time," Dr. Gold said.
A grand-opening ceremony for the Heart and Vascular Center will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today, and tours will be given before and after the celebration. The 24,820-square-foot center on the hospital's first floor will combine various cardiology and vascular services, including testing and rehabilitation.
UTMC will need to reapply with the United Network for Organ Sharing to have a cardiac transplant program, Dr. Gold said. Both endowed professorship positions will be filled by UNOS-certified doctors, he said.
While there is a need for a cardiac transplant program in Toledo, UTMC's center will work on preventing and treating heart failure, as well as early diagnosis, Dr. Gold said. Heart devices will be implanted to help patients live longer too, he said.
"The whole idea of congestive heart failure cardiology is to prevent people from [needing] transplants," Dr. Gold said.
The Mundts are grateful for the medical care they have received at the medical center, and they want to see the work of the late Dr. Thomas Walsh continue, said Mrs. Mundt, who owns Loma Linda, Ventura's, and Barron's Cafe restaurants with her husband.
A cardiologist who specialized in congestive heart failure and transplants, Dr. Walsh was accidentally struck by a van and killed in 2007 near his Waterville Township home while walking across the road to check his mailbox.
Dr. Walsh helped treat Mr. Mundt even before he received his transplant, Mrs. Mundt said.
The doctor fulfilled his promise of having his ailing patient well enough to walk his youngest daughter, Jennifer Linne, down the aisle at her wedding a dozen years ago, she said.
"Those are the things that are so vivid in my mind," Mrs. Mundt said. "I can never forget that."
She said: "We have been given an opportunity that very few people have in life, and we're very grateful."
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