Gratitude for Life, Belief in Research Prompt Gifts
B. Michael Rauh’s association with Cleveland Clinic dates to 1974, when he had a triple bypass the day before Thanksgiving. He had just turned 38.
“I go back so far that Mason Sones was my original doctor,” he says, referring to the pioneering Cleveland Clinic physician whose work in cardiac cinematography was instrumental in the development of coronary bypass and cardiac surgery. F. Mason Sones, MD, died in 1985.
Dr. Sones conducted Mr. Rauh’s initial coronary angiogram and, after reviewing the results, told him he needed surgery. Mr. Rauh asked what would happen if he didn’t go through with it. “You won’t make it to 40,” Dr. Sones answered.
“He was quite a character,” Mr. Rauh says. “I asked him whether he was going to do the surgery. He said, ‘No, you’ll have a real surgeon.’”
Mr. Rauh’s first symptoms began while he was attending a friend’s wedding. “I knew something was wrong, but I was not in a huge amount of pain,” he recalls. Two days later, his doctor examined him and told him he’d had a heart attack.
His doctor had sent another patient to Cleveland Clinic, and he advised Mr. Rauh that it was “the best place in the whole wide world to go.” Mr. Rauh, who now lives on the Chesapeake Bay south of Annapolis, says that getting to Cleveland is easy for him as it’s only a 70-minute flight from the Baltimore airport.
Why did he have heart problems at such a young age? “I can only tell you I did everything wrong,” he says. “I was a smoker, a weekend athlete, overweight and had a hell of a lot of stress.” Family history also was a factor: His uncle died of heart disease in his 60s.
Since his surgery, Mr. Rauh has lived by the rules set down by his Cleveland Clinic physicians. He knows how important that is: An acquaintance with the same condition didn’t lose weight or stop smoking, and he died within two years of surgery.
Over the decades, Mr. Rauh has made numerous donations to Cleveland Clinic, all related to heart programs. The reason is obvious, he says: “It’s very simple. If Cleveland Clinic didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be here. It’s no doubt they’ve kept me alive for 34 years.”
In 1994, Mr. Rauh returned to Cleveland Clinic for a second surgery. “I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” he says. What he jokingly refers to as a “touch-up” was actually a quadruple bypass performed by Delos M. Cosgrove, MD, now CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic. It was Dr. Cosgrove who invited Mr. Rauh to serve on what is now called the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute Leadership Commission. In this position, he is a volunteer ambassador for Cleveland Clinic, representing the institution to friends, neighbors and associates.
It’s not a difficult job for Mr. Rauh. “I’m a huge, huge fan of Cleveland Clinic,” he says, adding that he’s recommended it to a lot of people. “They went there and raved about the treatment. Cleveland Clinic is in a league of its own.”
He and his wife Margaret attended both the hard-hat tour and grand opening of the new Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Pavilion, home to the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute. “It’s phenomenal,” Mr. Rauh says of the entire facility. “It doesn’t get any better.”
A Gift for Research
An attorney in the Washington, D.C., office of the Philadelphia firm Blank Rome, Mr. Rauh has long known the importance of philanthropy. “My father had a foundation during his lifetime that I ran for him,” he says. “We gave small amounts to lots of different charities; mine, however, is more targeted.”
Mr. Rauh’s most recent gift went to the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute Research and Innovation Fund, which was set up in response to the decline in research funding from traditional sources such as the National Institutes of Health and private industry.
He is hopeful that the money he gives to research will lead to continued improvements in clinical care. He expresses amazement at the changes that already have been made in bypass surgery. “In ’74, I went into the hospital two days before the surgery and was there for 12 days afterward. In ’94, I went in the morning of the surgery and was out in six days. A friend who just had the surgery went in the morning and was out in four days.”
Cleveland Clinic, Mr. Rauh concludes, “has allowed me to meet all six of my grandchildren and now to enjoy retirement and world travel with my family.” Next year, he says, he and his wife will take two of their grandsons to Venice, Istanbul and Athens.
To make a gift supporting the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit iSupport, our secure online giving site, or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.