$1.5 Million Gift Will Help Kids Like Jack

Categories: Donor Story, Medical Center News, Partners in Caring
Cara Regan says of her son, Jack, “He had his 2-year ‘transplantaversary’ on July 31, 2018, and is a precocious 4-year-old who loves school just as much as he loves saying ‘no’ to his parents! He is still the happiest kid I know, with a true joy for life.”

A pediatric outpatient dialysis center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center would have been beneficial for a child like Jack.

His mother, Cara Regan, knows only too well how much a center geared toward children is needed in Connecticut. Even before Jack was born four years ago, Cara and her husband, Jon, knew her son was going to have kidney problems. When she was 22 weeks pregnant, doctors found a urinary tract obstruction and a malformed urethra. At 34 weeks, the doctor said fluid was building up in Jack’s belly, which was then bigger than his head, and he had to come out.

Jack was delivered by Caesarian section the next day and kept in the neonatal intensive care unit at Connecticut Children’s for another seven weeks while his medication was sorted out. But even with medication, there were problems.

“He wasn’t growing the way he should,” Cara said. “After his first year, the doctor said it was time for dialysis, with an eye toward kidney transplantation.” So, Jack started nine months of dialysis.

“We were seeing the nephrologist more than once a week at an adult dialysis center in Bloomfield,” Cara explained. “I definitely think that if the dialysis center had been at Connecticut Children’s, it would have made coordination between all our providers easier, because they were having to drive to Bloomfield to meet us at the dialysis center there. There were so many people involved. There were definitely instances when we were at the dialysis center and they had to call over to Connecticut Children’s to get a question answered or to share something. There was a lot of back and forth. The new center will allow the doctors to offer a higher level of care in one location.”

Today, at age 4, Jack no longer needs outpatient dialysis because he received a transplanted kidney in 2016. But thanks to the Robert R. Rosenheim Foundation, kids who still need outpatient dialysis services while awaiting transplant will soon be able to get the care they need closer to home.

Cara and Jon Regan with their son, Jack on the front steps of their home. In this photo, Jack was 2 years old.

First of Its Kind in the State

Connecticut Children’s forthcoming outpatient dialysis center—the first of its kind in the state—received a vital boost in October 2018 with a $1.5 million gift from the Robert R. Rosenheim Foundation. In recognition of this extraordinary commitment, the center will be named for Mr. Rosenheim, who died in 2015.

The new Robert R. Rosenheim Foundation Dialysis Center will occupy space on the fourth floor of the Medical Center, with construction slated to begin in 2019. The new facility will feature three treatment areas—two treatment bays and an isolation room—as well as a home treatment education room. Boasting state-of-the-art equipment and an engaging, child-friendly design, the new Center will of course, provide the extraordinary skill of Connecticut Children’s world-class clinical staff who specialize in the care of children.

“This extraordinarily generous gift from the Robert R. Rosenheim Foundation will be instrumental in creating the state’s first pediatric outpatient dialysis center,” said Jim Shmerling, Connecticut Children’s President and CEO. “With this support, families will no longer need to travel out of state to receive these services. We will be able to provide essential care for children who require outpatient dialysis while awaiting kidney transplants in an environment that is geared entirely for children. The generosity of the Robert R. Rosenheim Foundation has enabled this invaluable addition to the world-class care Connecticut Children’s provides, and we are deeply grateful to them.”

The Right Care for Kids

“It’s very gratifying to know that because of the Rosenheim Foundation support, all of these patients will get a more appropriate level of care that lessens the burden on them and their families,” said Cynthia Silva, MD, Division Head of Nephrology and Medical Director of Connecticut Children’s Center for Kidney and Bladder Disorders and Jack Regan’s nephrologist.

“It’s hard enough for a family to hear that their child needs dialysis,” Dr. Silva said. “Having them leave their medical home is pretty devastating, on top of the shocking news they just received. Their care gets dispersed and they hear different information. Now, they will be able to stay with the people who know them best.”

Robert Rosenheim was revered by the employees of his media brokerage firm, Robert Rosenheim Associates, who kept the business going after his death. His employees had become like family to him and they were very enthusiastic about his foundation’s donation to the new outpatient Dialysis Center at Connecticut Children’s.

Who Was Robert Rosenheim?

Robert Rosenheim lived in Sharon, Connecticut, and enjoyed a long and successful career in television advertising. He also owned a horse farm in upstate New York and raised champion horses for harness racing.

He was passionate about animals and, in addition to caring for his horses, he often opened his home to stray cats and dogs. And, though he never had children, spending time with his friends and colleagues’ children brought him much happiness. “When I met him, my kids were young, maybe 7 and 5, and he invited us up to his house for a pool party. He was there with all his business associates and people that he knew, but he spent the day in the pool having fun with the kids,” said Michael Samartino, the president of the Rosenheim Foundation and Robert Rosenheim’s longtime accountant.

Helping kids like Jack would have definitely pleased Robert Rosenheim. And with this gift in support of the Robert R. Rosenheim Foundation Dialysis Center, he will be helping many children who require outpatient dialysis.

“Connecticut Children’s is a perfect fit,” Samartino said. “When I was first presented with the idea of a naming opportunity for the Dialysis Center, I spoke with several pediatricians who all assured me that it was a much-needed facility in Connecticut. Bob was more than just a client; he was an extraordinary man, and we feel good knowing his legacy will live on at Connecticut Children’s.”