Harry Morton: In Memory and In Hope for Early Detection of Heart Disease

Harry Morton, In Memoriam Fund to Support Cardiovascular Disease Treatment at UCLA Health

Harry Morton was a man of many accomplishments; a restauranteur, tri-athlete, attended New York University, a Reserve Deputy Sheriff, and a dear friend to many. He was the beloved son of Peter Morton and Paulene Stone, and older brother to Matthew and Grace, and a younger brother to Sophie Harvey.

Sadly, Harry was also someone with an undiagnosed congenital heart condition. At the age of 38, he died unexpectedly of sudden cardiac arrest on November 23, 2019. Harry had a probable cardiac arrhythmia as well as myocardial bridging with coronary atherosclerosis. The news of Harry’s death shocked his family and friends, as he living a healthy life with no outward signs of a heart condition.

In Harry’s passing, his family wanted to honor the philanthropist he was and established the Harry Morton Congenital Heart Disease Screening Fund at UCLA Health to help further screening and treatment for congenital heart disease. This fund will help pediatric and adult patients through early detection screening, scans, and care-related needs. With Harry’s support, UCLA will also conduct research to expand our understanding of congenital heart disease.

In his significant business achievements, Harry followed in his father’s footsteps as co-founder of the restaurant chain Hard Rock Cafe, and his grandfather Arnie Morton, who founded the restaurant chain Morton's The Steakhouse. A third-generation restauranteur, Harry was founder of the chain Pink Taco.

What is Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular diseases represent the leading cause of death globally, and Sudden Cardiovascular Disease (SCD) is the single largest cause of natural death in the United States. Accounting for approximately 325,000 adult deaths per year, SCD is responsible for nearly half of all deaths from cardiovascular disease. Twice as common in males, compared to females, SCD strikes people in the mid-30s to mid-40s age range. In more than 50 percent of cases, SCD occurs with no warning signs.

In addition to quitting smoking for a healthier heart, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) urge screening for a family history of SCD. For those with a known family history of heart disease or SCD, the ACC and AHA suggest screening for asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction. In addition, if a person has a cardiac condition, it is important for family members to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and how to use automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which are located in many offices and public buildings.

Support the Harry Morton Fund