Real estate businessman Seymour "Sy" Taxman and his wife, Nancy, presented a gift of $2.5 million to the University of Chicago Medicine on Wednesday in honor of the late Joseph B. Kirsner, MD, PhD, the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and a pioneer in the research and treatment of digestive disease.
Taxman, CEO and founder of the Taxman Corp., a real estate development company in the Chicago area, announced the intended donation at the annual fundraising event for the Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation on June 30, 2012, to support the training of specialists in gastro-intestinal diseases. Kirsner died several days later, on July 7, at the age of 102.
Originally intended to be spread out over five years, Taxman said Wednesday he and his wife decided to accelerate the donation following a major surgical procedure at the University of Chicago Medicine on Nov. 30. The operation was to finally resolve a chronic gastro-intestinal condition, which he had lived with for more than 12 years.
He handed one of his doctors, David Rubin, MD, co-director of the Inflammatory Bowl Disease Center, the full $2.5 million Wednesday.
During those 12 years, Taxman said, he was blessed to have the compassionate care and support of Kirsner, known fondly as "Dr. Joe," as well as Stephen Hanauer, MD, GI section chief, and Rubin.
"I could not have had three more compassionate human beings as guardians of my health," Taxman said.
"Dr. Joe changed a big part of my life," Taxman added. "He was the brightest and most caring person I have ever met."
Taxman said he and his wife want to ensure the continuation of the kind of care that "Dr. Joe" personified — where the holding of a hand can be as important to a patient's treatment as any technical measure.