Actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Doug and Lisa Pitt, and Rob and Julie Neal donated $1 million to help open a pediatric cancer center at St. John's Children's Hospital
, located in the Pitt's hometown of Springfield, Missouri, in honor of their mother and passionate children's issues advocate Jane Pitt. St. John's officials announced the donation and cancer center plans during the "Celebration of Imagination" event June 13.
St. John's will open the Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center
later this summer and the endowment from the Pitts will allow St. John's to hire the region's first pediatric hematologist-oncologist, Dr. Remi Fasipe.
This news also comes at the same time as another big announcement, that St. John's is now a formal affiliate of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. This means that St. John's will be able to offer treatment and enrollment into St. Jude's world-famous clinical research trials locally--and for patients accepted for cancer therapy on a St. Jude or cooperative group protocol, they will still receive care at no cost.
I think this is great news because many cancer treatments that are administered at St. Jude's in Memphis can now be administered at St. John's, saving patients and families the added stress of being away from home for long periods of time for treatment. St. John's is the sixth St. Jude affiliated pediatric hematology-oncology clinic in the U.S.
In a St. John press release, St. Jude director and CEO Dr. William Evans said, "Over the years, St. John's has referred patients to St. Jude for enrollment in our clinical research protocols. Now, as a St. Jude affiliate, St. John's will receive clinical academic and financial support to broaden the scope of the collaboration. The significant benefit of this affiliation for both institutions will be having a clinic in Springfield that mirrors the standard of excellent care synonymous with St. Jude in Memphis."
As part of a number of expansions to their pediatric services, St. John's also has plans to double the size of the neonatal intensive and pediatric intensive care units, add a new 31-bed pediatric unit, and a 10-bedroom hospital-based Ronald McDonald House. And St. John's Auxiliary has pledged $1 million over four years to help fund the additional projects.
The new Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center will temporarily be located on the 5th floor of St. John's Children's Hospital. Dr. Remi Fasipe will join the center on August 1, and St. John's plans to hire other pediatric specialists, including a pediatric endocrinologist.