In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

November 11, 2014

Transplant House Reflects Founder’s Neighborly Ways

By In the Loop

The Gift of Life Transplant House provides a place to call home for Mayo transplant patients. Every patient has a story. The places where patients gather have their stories, too. One of those places – one where transplant patients can spend a fair bit of time while in Rochester – was highlighted, of all places, in a recent edition of RealtorMag. It likely would come as no surprise to guests that its founder, Edward Pompeian, was named the magazine's 2014 Good Neighbor. His good neighborliness has made a difference in the lives of countless Mayo transplant patients since he first "purchased an old Craftsman, eight-bedroom house blocks from the Mayo Clinic in 1984."

"I wanted to create a home environment, somewhere people could share their life experience going through transplantation," Pompeian tells the magazine. That desire was kindled by personal experience. The idea for the Gift of Life Transplant House came to him after he went through a transplant himself before starting his career in realty. Pompeian received a kidney transplant in 1973, according to the magazine, "after developing an infection that destroyed his kidneys as a teen." Just 21 years old, he moved to Rochester with his mother to receive care at Mayo Clinic. Their extended stay in the city was complicated. They stayed in hotels and eventually leased an apartment, while Pompeian's father stayed back home in Michigan to work.

After his recovery, Pompeian began to visit other transplant patients, reinforcing his belief that "there was a need for nearby extended-stay patient housing." And for him, it was about more than just accommodations. What he envisioned was also about community and support. "I wanted to create a home environment, somewhere people could share their life experience going through transplantation," he tells the magazine.

"Gift of Life is an incredibly important resource and option for our transplant patients. At a time of very critical need both emotionally and medically, they have a place to call home," Mayo's Thomas Schwab, M.D., Transplant Center, says in a video that accompanies the profile. "It helps them have the absolute best outcome they can." Or, in the words of transplant patient Jan Lewis, also featured in the video, "You can come here and actually share what's going on with you and how hard it's been … It builds your confidence that you can actually get through some of the things you have to go through."

And Pompeian continues to be involved with patients. "He helped us so much through this journey, because he's been through it himself," Greg Vilmo, husband of a transplant recipient, says in the video. To which Pompeian matter-of-factly replies, "Whenever there's a need for the transplant house, I'll be here." Like a Good Neighbor.

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Tags: Community, Edward Pompeian, Patient Stories, Transplant Center, Transplant House, transplantation

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