Chicago-Area Family Donates $10M to Comer Children's Hospital

The family of Weber Grill creator George Stephen Sr. donated $10 million to the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital Sunday.

The neonatology center's new name, the Margaret M. and George A. Stephen Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, was unveiled Sunday to more than a 1,000 attendees of an annual celebration reuniting NICU doctors, nurses and staff with families they once cared for.

The gift, among the Chicagoland area's largest ever for neonatal care, will support research toward advancements in treatments for critically ill and premature newborns, along with genetic studies to uncover links to early childhood diseases, according to a press release from University of Chicago Medicine. The donation also enables the recruitment of an accomplished neonatologist who will become the new Stephen Family Professor of Pediatrics.

"We've all been blessed with good health, so this is a way for us to give back through a local Chicago institution that we feel uses their resources wisely and does work that touches us -- helping kids," Weber-Stephen Products Executive Chairman Jim Stephen said in a statement. "My brothers, sisters and I have really gotten to know the doctors and nurses, and we've been impressed by how they selflessly dedicate themselves to doing everything they can to give these infants the best possible a chance at surviving and thriving."

Twelve members of the Stephen family made equal contributions of $833,000 each, the release said. In addition to their latest gift, the family has directed more than $1.5 million to research and patient care at the hospital.

With more than 1,000 infants admitted annually, the Stephen NICU at Comer Children's Hospital is the largest such facility in the Midwest.

The hospital's leadership says the Stephens gift will have an immeasurable impact, helping to equip its staff with advanced clinical equipment and child-life resources.

"This historic gift holds the promise to change lives," David Gozal, MD, Herbert T. Abelson Professor and chairman of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medicine and physician-in-chief at Comer Children's Hospital said in a statement. "I view the Stephen family as our partners. They have been extraordinary in their generosity and understanding. They're very special."

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