Giving : Donor Stories

Dr. Nasser Al-Rashid: Dr. Eugene Schiff Named First Al-Rashid Chair of Hepatology

Surrounded by friends, colleagues, and University of Miami leadership, Eugene R. Schiff, M.D., became the first holder of the Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Chair in the Division of Hepatology and the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases.

Phil Corey: Aiding the Fight Against Liver Diseases

Smart enough to have built a lucrative seafood business and to have attended medical school, Phil Corey couldn’t wrap his brain around the simplest of concepts: his own mortality.

Welcome to the confounding world of asymptomatic liver disease. You feel fit as a fiddle, but at the same time your doctor somberly warns of cirrhosis, liver cancer, and ultimately transplantation. Who to believe—your physician or your body?
Hard-driving, opinionated, and stubborn, Corey laughingly admits that his obstinence occasionally drove Eugene Schiff, M.D., Director of the Schiff Center, crazy. Ultimately Corey had a reality check, followed by liver transplantation surgery. He has pledged $3.5 million to the Miller School of Medicine, with $1.5 million going to the Center for Liver Diseases, transplantation, and gastroenterology, along with a gift to athletics.

Blacher: Strengthening Research to Combat Liver Diseases

An entrepreneur who created a Florida business treating patients with alcoholism, bipolar illness, and drug addiction, in 2003 Blacher got in touch with Lennox Jeffers, M.D., professor of medicine and associate chief of liver disease at the Miller School.

Jeffers prescribed a potent pharmaceutical cocktail that dramatically lowered Blacher’s viral count, but whose side effects included joint pain and low white blood cell counts. “My levels are beginning to become normal again,” Blacher notes of the hepatitis C virus in his liver, “Its taken months to get back to this place.” Reminiscent of his training regimen when he raced cars, Blacher has been lifting weights, exercising, swimming, and watching his diet to aid his recovery. Grateful that his hepatitis C is under control, Blacher established an endowment last year that gives the Miller School $100,000 annually for five years to research liver disease.

Raul Valdes-Fauli: Second Chance

The subplots of Raul Valdes-Fauli’s life have the makings of a good Hollywood feature: A teenage boy flees Havana with his family after Fidel Castro’s takeover, comes to
America, attends Harvard Law School, works with prestigious international corporations, and becomes mayor of Coral Gables.

But like any good script, there is a crisis. In Valdes-Fauli’s case it was hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common cancer of the liver.Today, he raises funds to support the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases. Valdes-Fauli says he will be forever grateful to the doctors and nurses who treated him and has since worked to raise money for the Miller Schools Division of Hepatology. “It was a difficult time, but their kindness and amazing efficiency made all the difference,” he says, “I am lucky and blessed.”

Glenn Sutton: A Brotherly Tribute

Glenn Sutton works hard to keep his older brother’s memory alive and he does so by playing off Dennis’ interests in life. After the avid golfer died of Hepatitis C on October 24, 2006, Glenn established the Dennis Sutton Golf Tournament, plus the poker-based Texas Hold’em Tournament. Proceeds from the golf tournament support the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Schiff Center for Liver Diseases, while proceeds from the poker event help the Boys and Girls Club of Broward, an organization Dennis was a board member of. To date, Glenn has raised close to $150,000 to support the research and programmatic efforts of the UM Center for Liver Diseases.

Binky Miller: Liver Transplant: My Story

Dr. Eugene Schiff entered my life 20 years ago. Liver disease was our common denominator. I had it and he studied it. With superior knowledge and gentle compassion he directed my journey from knowledge of the culprit, Hepatitis C, through the cirrhosis phase to his ultimate announcement, “It’s time now to discuss transplantation.” I never lost faith in Dr. Schiff and he never lost faith in me. He knew that I was a determined, stubborn fighter. Earning a Ph.D. and teaching, raising a family, being a builder, and actively running a business of buying and selling antiques must have convinced him that I had what it takes to treat a transplanted liver with the respect it deserves. Respect. I am one of thousands that owe our lives to the incomparable Dr. Eugene Schiff. And from the beginning with gratitude I supported his efforts to create this Schiff Liver Institute. With the expertise of surgeons, Drs. Andreas Tzakis and David Levi, I am now six years “out” and doing extremely well. I have written a book, “LIVER TRANSPLANT: MY STORY” and with the deepest thanks I dedicated it to Dr. Schiff and Dr. Tzakis. If you’d like, you can order a copy from my publisher “AUTHORHOUSE.COM” or from any bookstore. It is also available in the ebook version.