Doctor’s $1M gift matched with $1M pledge

The Memorial Health System is celebrating after one physician and his family donated $1 million to the Memorial Health Foundation last week and another physician and his family pledged to donate another $1 million in the future.

Dr. Srini Vasan, who works as a radiation oncologist for the Memorial Health System, presented $1 million to the foundation to dedicate the Radiation Medicine and Radiosurgery Institute in memory of Peggy Ann Cawley, mother of Vasan’s colleague and friend Dr. Kelli Cawley, and to dedicate the Vasan Family Robotic Surgery Center.

At the announcement of Vasan’s gift on Saturday, Dr. Rajendra Bhati, a surgeon within the Memorial Health System, pledged an additional $1 million to be used for future equipment and advancement.

The gift will be split between the Radiosurgery Institute and the Robotic Surgery Center, with funds going toward new equipment and the dedicated area the system has made space for.

“There are only a couple robotic surgery centers in our area, and it is impressive and very amazing to have in such a small community,” said Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing for the Memorial Health System. “The surgical system has been around for several years, but it’s really becoming the standard for surgical care because it has enormous benefits to patients.”

Vasan, who has been with the Memorial Health System for almost 30 years, said he is excited to contribute to the expansion of the health system.

“Our system continues to grow and my family is proud to help strengthen its capacity to provide exceptional health care here at home,” he said in a press release.

Having the robotics surgery, which started within the Memorial Health System about a month ago, benefits both patients and surgeons, according to hospital officials.

“The incisions made with this equipment are much smaller and there’s less blood loss and fewer complications, which results in a faster recovery and less pain,” Offenberger said. “People are able to have surgery and get back to ‘normal life’ a lot quicker.”

The robotics have also set the practice of surgery forward in terms of technology.

“They can now perform surgeries in minute, precise areas that have not been easy to get to with the human hand,” Offenberger said.

Bhati, who has already performed 40 robotics-based surgeries so far, has been named the director of the robotic surgery center, and decided to make the additional $1 million pledge with his wife Susan.

“Our pledge is truly embedded in the fact that we want the health system capabilities to continue to grow and provide outstanding services to our community, neighbors, friends and family,” Bhati said in the release.

Both Vasan and his family, along with the Cawley and Bhati families, met at a Memorial Moment ceremony and dinner at the Lafayette Hotel on March 22.

There, the families unveiled two commissioned portraits of the late Peggy Ann Cawley that will hang outside the newly dedicated Peggy Ann Cawley Radiation Medicine and Radiosurgery Institute.

Mid-Ohio Valley resident Peggy Ann Cawley died after an 18-year battle with brain cancer, and her daughter Kelli now works as an oncologist at Marietta Memorial Hospital.

“Vasan made the gift in honor of Peggy Ann Cawley, as Kelli is a dear friend of hers and respects her so much,” said Daneka Hedges, executive director of the foundation.

Hedges said donations and pledges of this amount are fairly rare, as the foundation has only seen five in its history.

“It could not have come at a better time, because it was perfect to be able to announce the donation and then have Dr. Bhati announce his pledge all in one evening,” Hedges said. “Dr. Vasan’s $1 million donation and Dr. Bhati’s $1 million pledge will leave a lasting philanthropic legacy and set a new bar for future giving to the foundation.”