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In loving memory

Tom Busch's gift to aortic valve disease research honors his mother and hero, Dorothy Busch.

New fund will support research into groundbreaking cardiac care

When Dorothy Busch died in 2011 at age 92, her son, Tom Busch, told his cousin that his mom was his hero. The cousin, he recalls, replied, “You know, Tom, she was a hero to many, many people.”

It was that sentiment that prompted Tom to set up the Dorothy M. Busch Memorial Endowed Fund to support aortic valve disease and related research at the University of Minnesota.

“I wanted to do something in her name that would benefit other people,” says Busch, as his mother always was willing to lend a helping hand, especially to those in need. So he made a pledge to further research being done by Robert Wilson, M.D., an interventional cardiologist focused on coronary artery and heart valve disease.

Dorothy Busch had suffered from aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve that makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. In 1991, she had aortic valve replacement surgery. At that time, it was an open-heart procedure with a long, grueling recovery period.

Now, two decades later, that scenario has changed dramatically. “I had an opportunity to see Dr. Wilson demonstrate a new technique for doing aortic valve replacement—absolutely amazing!” Tom Busch says. “What a difference from the invasive surgery my mom had.”

Busch is referring to new, considerably less-invasive heart repairs that can be made by threading a catheter through an artery to reach the defect, a technique that Wilson is pioneering at the U.

“Once I decided I wanted to do something to honor my mom, I didn’t really know how to go about it,” he says. “But when a friend recommended I speak with someone at the U, it all came together easily.”

Busch believes that a gift to the University is not simply a business-like transfer of funds; rather, he says, the people he worked with at the University made sure he could make his gift to a project that had meaning for him.

“The doctors even send me research updates,” says Busch. “I really appreciate that these amazing scientists have so much excitement about what they do and are willing to share it with people like me.”

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