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Savoring Life

Hoag Donor and Grateful Patient Gary Fudge Makes a Big Impact

Gary Fudge lives in a state of gratitude. Since his brush with death, which began on November 18, 2010, he calls every day an “extra.” That was the day that he woke up with the worst headache of his life. Something was terribly wrong. He recalls being rushed through the doors of the Joan & Andy Fimiano Emergency Pavilion at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach. The next thing he remembers is waking up in the neurological ICU where he would spend 20 days recovering from a hemorrhagic stroke.

Doctors at that time could not find the “leak” that caused his neurological event. Once released, Gary was warned to keep his blood pressure as low as possible. Although he came back periodically for MRI scans, he felt that he was living on borrowed time. After 18 months of thinking that every day could be his last, he received a call that changed everything.

His latest MRI had revealed an arteriovenous (AV) fistula, an abnormal connection between an artery and a vein. His physicians now believed that his previous stroke had been caused by an AV fistula which had spontaneously broken apart. Now it was back. After two harrowing surgeries to repair it, Gary went home as good as new.

The Day I Didn’t Die

Today there are no residual traces of Gary’s stroke or brain surgeries. He has his life back. Along with that, he has a deep sense of appreciation for each and every day. In fact, every November 18 he commemorates “The Day I Didn’t Die” with a celebration dinner attended by his closest friends.

He also has a new appreciation for the physicians at the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute. A life-long learner with degrees in physics, engineering and finance, Gary was curious to learn more about the processes and technology that saved his life. “I had never heard of interventional radiology,” he smiles. “I was truly flabbergasted when my doctor described the procedure to me. It was pretty sobering.”

Inspired by his experience and the dedication and expertise of the Hoag physicians who restored his health, Gary made the decision to make a major gift to the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute. In recognition of his $1.5 million gift, Hoag named the Fudge Family Imaging Suite at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach in his honor.

Bringing the Best to Hoag

The Fudge Family Imaging Suite empowers the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute's Stroke team with the most advanced technology currently available. The equipment it houses enables precise and efficient 3D-image-guided, minimally-invasive stroke rescue.

“The new suite allows us to fully leverage innovations in our field,” says Wallace Peck, M.D., F.A.C.R. “The image quality of the monitors is spectacular. The technology makes the experience much easier on the patients with lower doses of radiation, shorter procedures and less anesthesia.” Dr. Peck adds that the equipment also allows physicians to get immediate CT scans meaning that patients are no longer moved to another room and back for scans during delicate procedures.

Michael Brant-Zawadzki , M.D., F.A.C.R., Ron & Sandi Simon Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair, shares that while a boon to the stroke program, the Fudge Family Imaging Suite will also benefit other programs. “This technology will be used for brain tumor mapping and epilepsy diagnosis,” he says. “It’s particularly rewarding for us when a donor experiences something and realizes that, through their generosity, they can facilitate a better experience for the next person. We are very grateful to Gary and the Fudge Family Foundation.”

The Fudge family gift to the Stroke program will also fuel critically needed education on stroke prevention. This includes the recognition of the earliest warning signs which enables the earliest possible intervention to mitigate irreversible brain injury.

Giving Back is a Way of Life

For his part, Gary is very pleased to know the tremendous impact his gift will make. “The things they do at Hoag are life transforming,” he says. “The really big thing for me is that, before I had this problem, I didn’t even know this technology existed. It’s amazing and, while I hope I never have to use it again, I’m glad it will be there for others!”

Gary is the trustee of the Fudge Family Foundation through which he supports worthy organizations such as Operation Hope. Gary envisions that, in the future, his four children will run the Foundation and collaborate to find causes they care about to support.

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