In 1948, when Paul Ripley—a retired educator and award-winning photographer—was just 18 years old, his father began experiencing severe heart pain. At the time, there weren’t any effective treatments for the condition.
“Back then, there was no open-heart surgery,” Paul says. “There was nothing to do but sit there and watch my father die.”
Years later when Paul started experiencing his own heart problems, medical research had advanced—and leading edge treatments saved his life.
“I’ll be 86 in May and I have no right to be this old,” Paul says with a laugh. “But I’ve turned to medicine. It seems like any time I had a problem, the treatment—a new medicine or new procedure—came out when I really needed it. Because of that, I have a deep, deep respect for medical research and wanted to pay it forward to The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.”
Research Progress…Right on Time
In 1977, Paul was one of the first patients in the country to undergo a bypass surgery in Cleveland, Ohio. He later had an additional bypass surgery. By 2006, he was suffering from congestive heart failure, but scar tissue from previous procedures made surgery extremely difficult, if not impossible.
He was referred by his local physician to Barnes-Jewish Hospital where Hersh Maniar, MD, a Washington University cardiothoracic surgeon, successfully performed the complicated surgery in 2010.
“Dr. Maniar and the rehabilitation specialists gave me life,” Paul says. “They gave me a psychological and physical return to humanity. I was luckier than my father because of research that had been done that saved my life when I was dying. We couldn’t do anything for him, but medical research progressed right on time and my life was saved.”
His deep gratitude and respect for the research that made these advances possible inspired him to leave a gift in his will to the Foundation.
His generous gift will ensure that heart and vascular physicians at Barnes-Jewish will continue to lead the field in research to develop new treatments to benefit future generations of patients like Paul and his father.
“I consider my giving to be an investment,” Paul says. “Supporting research pays great dividends in prolonging life in a way that allows a person to still be productive and have health and happiness and still be a part of the community.”