Amy Zuckerman’s parents, Barbara and Daniel Sugarman, both psychologists, instilled in their family the importance of philanthropy. When Daniel passed away in 2015, his will contained a charitable bequest and empowered his children to select the beneficiaries. “He wanted to teach his children and grandchildren about being charitable,” Zuckerman explains. “So we had to choose the charities.”
Zuckerman and her husband, Ken, sat down with each of their two sons and asked them: “Where do you want part of Appa’s estate to go?” Her younger son, Max, 16, didn’t hesitate. His choice was the Congenital Hyperinsulinism Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the program that had saved him from potential brain damage and other serious complications.
The Zuckermans’ first child, Harry, had been born with a heart defect that was successfully repaired at a New York hospital. Five years later, when Max was delivered after being monitored in utero for heart issues, “The obstetrician said, ‘Oh,’” Zuckerman recalls. “I didn’t like that ‘oh.’ I knew there was something wrong.”
Max’s heart was fine but his blood sugar was plummeting. Doctors in the hospital’s newborn intensive care unit thought Max might have hyperinsulinism (HI), a rare condition that causes the cells in a newborn’s pancreas to release way too much insulin, which lowers the blood sugar to dangerous levels.
The Zuckermans contacted N. Scott Adzick, MD, CHOP’s Surgeon-in-Chief and an expert on HI, and then headed to CHOP. The HI Center treats approximately 80 children annually, making it the most active program in the country. “Everyone was amazing,” says Zuckerman. Luckily, Max’s HI could be cured by surgically removing a small section of his pancreas. “We’re indebted to them forever,” Zuckerman says of the CHOP team.
Today, Max is a champion pole vaulter and hopes to become a doctor. Zuckerman notes that Max “has always wanted to give back,” which has mainly involved participating in clinical studies about HI’s long-term impact. Directing a portion of their grandparents’ estate to the HI Center made Max “so excited,” Zuckerman says with pride.
This is just one of the many stories of donor impact that happened during the campaign For Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs.