$2.5M gift to directly impact patient care

November 02, 2020
Chris and Tom Motamed
Chris and Tom Motamed

A Charleston area couple has made a $2.5 million gift to help fast-track innovations in cardiovascular patient care at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Chris and Tom Motamed made their gift following a tour of MUSC Health Heart and Vascular Center, rated the #1 cardiovascular hospital in South Carolina.

Chris has served on the center’s advisory board since 2015, drawn by a longtime interest and background in cardiovascular medicine.

Before moving to the Charleston area, she served as head nurse in a cardiac intensive care unit in New York City and later in a catheterization unit in New Jersey. She also served on the nursing faculty at Passaic Community College in Paterson, New Jersey. 

Inspired by what she heard in the boardroom at MUSC, Chris asked to tour the center and talk in person with some of the doctors about their work.

During the visit, she and Tom visited a hybrid operating room, a highly advanced facility where interventional cardiologists and heart surgeons can work side by side to address multiple problems involving the heart, valves and vasculature at the same time.

They also learned about how MUSC’s heart surgeons are now using robotics to perform highly precise, minimally invasive procedures with less risk, shorter hospitalizations, and better outcomes than were possible in the past.

Chris was impressed by what she learned and struck by the doctors’ sense of purpose, vision and determination.

“They were very passionate, not only about what they were doing, but what they could do,” she said.

“We were pretty impressed,” agreed Tom. “But quite honestly, when we found out how long people were on the waiting list to get these various procedures done, we said, that's an awful long time to wait. And we left there thinking, if there was any way we could speed up the administration of that care, that would be meaningful to us. That was our sole motivation.”

To that end, the Motameds decided to make an unrestricted gift to the center, meaning it can be used at the discretion of the hospital’s leadership. Their only request: That it be invested in clinical innovations with a meaningful, direct impact on patient care.

The Motameds’ contribution also is expendable, meaning that any or all of it can be used immediately.

“That’s an incredibly important aspect of this gift,” said Cardiology Chief Dr. Thomas DiSalvo.

“Innovations are coming so quickly now, especially in cardiovascular medicine. That’s great, but it can be difficult to budget for,” he explained. “This allows us to evaluate these innovations and bring the best ones quickly and directly to the care of our patients. It truly will change what’s possible in their treatment and outcomes.”

Hospital leaders currently are evaluating several such innovations and devices, especially in the area of advanced imaging. One technology, called “augmented reality,” would allow surgeons to interact with scans in real time – for example, overlaying a CT scan over a patient’s heart and then manipulating the image to look for structural deficiencies. 

Another application would enable surgeons to “pre-map” procedures and predict how valves or other parts of the heart will respond to specific treatments.

“What we’re always aiming for is less invasive, less time in the hospital, and better outcomes,” said interventional cardiologist Daniel Steinberg, M.D. “Advanced imaging helps us get there. It eliminates a lot of the unknowns in advance.”

Cardiothoracic surgeon Marc Katz, M.D., accompanied the Motameds during their initial tour of the MUSC Health Heart and Vascular Center. He says he was “shocked” when he first learned of their gift. Today, he is left with a sense of tremendous gratitude and professional empowerment.

“So many times, as a physician, you think ‘If I could only do this, if I could only do that,’” he said. “Now we have an opportunity to take those frustrations and turn them around into new tools and devices and enhance what we’re doing. This gives us the opportunity to dream, to look for things that are way out of the box.”