St Jude Children’s Research Hospital: Hope for Young Cancer Patients

St Jude Children’s Research Hospital: Hope for Young Cancer Patients

The Friese Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on partnering with other organizations and communities to help provide impactful and life-changing opportunities, especially for veterans, first responders, children, animals, people with mental health issues, and churches, schools, and hospitals.  

The Friese Foundation is honored to offer its financial support to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. St Jude is a truly special and remarkable nonprofit healthcare organization dedicated to an important cause. It serves the most precious – and vulnerable – people in our society: children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

St Jude Children's Research Hospital

Despite the significant progress of medical science in the treatment of childhood cancer, it remains a deadly disease. While pediatric cancer is relatively rare, it remains the leading cause of death in children past infancy in the United States.

According to the National Cancer Institute, over 11,000 children from birth to age 14 were diagnosed with cancer in 2019, and 1,190 children died from the disease. The most common types of cancer among children in this age range are lymphomas, leukemias, and brain and central nervous system tumors.

“We are deeply grateful to the Friese Foundation for your remarkable support,” wrote Regina Watson, Sr. Vice President of Gift Planning at St Jude, in a letter of endorsement for the Friese Foundation. “We applaud your philanthropic efforts to help organizations like ours make a difference in the lives of children and families.”

Since 1962, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital has lived up to its motto, “Finding cures. Saving children.” Since their opening in 1962, the survival rate of childhood cancer has more than quadrupled: from 20 percent to now over 80 percent.

U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) ranks St Jude as the #2 children’s hospital in the nation for pediatric cancer. The publication takes into account multiple clinical outcomes, including:

  • Bone marrow transplant services
  • The 5-year survival rate for leukemia-related cancer
  • Brain sarcoma and tumor programs
  • Infection prevention

St Jude is also continuously engaged in groundbreaking medical research. For example, earlier this year, the hospital announced a breakthrough regarding treatment for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID).

SCID is a rare immune disorder caused by abnormal mutations of the genes involved in the development and function of infection-fighting immune cells. Children with SCID are extremely vulnerable to infectious diseases; without successful treatment, the life expectancy of a child with SCID is just one to two years.

Now, however, there’s more reason to hope: researchers at St Jude have discovered a cure.

Through a unique gene therapy process, physicians at St Jude and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco were able to cure babies with X-linked severe immunodeficiency, or SCID-X1. Prior to the breakthrough, the only treatment available to SCID patients was a bone marrow transplant. However, such a procedure requires a matched donor for successful outcomes.  Unfortunately, 80 percent of patients waiting for a bone marrow transplant are unable to find a matching donor. The cure found by St Jude’s is therefore critical for children diagnosed with SCID-X1.

However, this cure for a rare immune disorder is merely scratching the surface of what the remarkable minds at St Jude are accomplishing. Other vital research and treatment programs include:

  • Targeting cancer cells in pediatric patients through CAR-T cell therapy
  • Combining genomic and other data to further understand the mechanisms of certain cancers, such as leukemia
  • Understanding muscle-brain communication, a critical aspect of neuromuscular diseases

While its main priority is delivering world-class care, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital remains committed to keeping its services free of charge.

In addition to directing its resources to cutting-edge research and world-class medical treatment, St Jude sticks to its founding principle of “freeing families from the biggest burden in getting life-saving healthcare: the cost.” Families of patients treated at St Jude never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing, or food.  

But the bills must be paid – and life-saving cancer treatment can be extremely costly. The average cost of treating a single case of childhood cancer is $425,000.

Unlike the vast majority of hospitals, funding for St Jude’s important work comes almost exclusively from donations. According to the St Jude website, three-quarters of the funds needed come entirely from generous benefactors. If patients have insurance, St Jude bills the insurance – never the patient’s family – for the cost of care.

This operating model has allowed St Jude to treat around 8,500 patients each year. Because the hospital believes that children with cancer should nevertheless have as normal a childhood as possible, most patients are treated on an outpatient basis. With their families, they stay in one of St Jude’s affiliated residential facilities, which contain a combined total of nearly 300 rooms that have been designed and are managed by families of children with cancer and other diseases. In 2018, construction began on a fourth housing complex containing 140 units.

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