On August 13, 2014, a small group of faculty and staff gathered in the Dr. S. Jerome and Judith D. Tamkin Auditorium in Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to enjoy a rare, private performance by world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Made possible by liver- and heart-transplant patient Diann Kim and her husband John Frank, the invitation-only event honored the physicians and staff responsible for her care. David T. Feinberg, MD (RES ’92, FEL ’94), MBA, president of UCLA Health System, welcomed the guests. “Tonight is about kindness, about one patient saying thank you to us,” he said. He asked all those who had cared for Kim to stand, and he recognized their contributions. “In reality, we could probably fill about four auditoriums if we gathered everybody who made it happen for Diann to get the care she received,” he added.
Kim then shared her story. “In January 2009, Dr. Ronald Busuttil performed a liver transplant and saved my life,” she said. “Last November, Dr. Abbas Ardehali performed a heart transplant, and my life was saved again. And here I am, ever so grateful to my wonderful doctors and their transplant teams. I look at all of you, and you represent so many kindnesses.” Kim spoke of her moment of despair when it did not seem as if they would find a heart donor and of the many things the physicians and staff did to improve her extended stay in the hospital. She then introduced Yo-Yo Ma and closed her remarks by telling the audience, “Please know that you are the heroes of my new life.”
The respected cellist, who said he was honored to be at the event and thanked the audience for the “miracles,” performed four pieces tailored to the evening. He began with “Appalachia Waltz,” which he said was transnational and reflected the cultural diversity of the healthcare team. That was followed by a composition that was his interpretation of the frenetic pace of the environment. He shared that his final two selections, a Sarabande followed by a Gigue, both by Bach, could be played for sad and happy occasions, to celebrate or reflectively remember something.
Dr. Feinberg and Dr. Busuttil (RES ’77), director of the Dumont-UCLA Liver Transplant Center and the William P. Longmire, Jr. Chair in Surgery, offered closing remarks, which included presenting Kim with a gift — the naming in her honor of the room where she stayed for 92 days while waiting for a heart to become available for transplantation in the 7 North Cardiac Observation Unit at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The concert was preceded and followed by a reception.
In addition to Drs. Feinberg and Busuttil, attendees included Dr. Ardehali (RES ’95, ’97), who specializes in thoracic and cardiac-transplant surgery; Kim’s clinical-care team and staff; and UCLA Health staff. Kim and Frank, in addition to hosting the very special celebration, are generous supporters of the UCLA Health Sciences.