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Gore heiress donates $6M+ to Nemours orthopedics

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Nemours Orthopedic gift Elizabeth Snyder

W.G. Stuart Mackenzie, left, stands with his ceremonial chair as the Elizabeth W. Snyder Endowed Chair in Skeletal Dysplasia while Dr. Jeanne Franzone, right, poses with the Elizabeth W. Snyder Endowed Chair in Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Joining them is Dr. Suken Shah, chair of the Department of Orthopedics, and Dr. Katherine Deans, surgeon-in-chief, at Nemours. | PHOTO COURTESY OF NEMOURS

WILMINGTON – Nemours Children’s Health, Delaware Valley will now have two endowed nationally recognized orthopedic surgeons thanks to a $6.75 million donation from the heiress of the founders of W. L. Gore & Associates.

The funding from Elizabeth W. Snyder, the daughter of Gore founders Bill and Genevieve Gore, and one of Delaware’s richest residents by some reports, will also go to developing enhanced programming for patients with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) and skeletal dysplasia, among other conditions.

Snyder, a former director of the material science company headquartered in Newark and the mother of current CEO Bret Snyder, chose the recipient programs in alignment with interests and experience at W. L. Gore & Associates, the health system said.

 “The history of Nemours Children’s Hospital is rooted in orthopedics and Nemours Children’s orthopedic services are recognized worldwide,” Snyder said in a statement announcing the gift. “I have personally visited with families from hundreds of miles away from Delaware who came to Nemours Children’s as their only option for care. Through this donation, I am pleased to help Nemours Children’s further build upon its legacy by continuing to conduct research and developing new treatments to provide hope for these children.”

Franzone is the surgical director of Nemours’ multidisciplinary Osteogenesis Imperfecta Program providing comprehensive care for patients with OI from the prenatal period through age 35, addressing concerns from brittle bone fractures and spine problems to complex upper and lower extremity deformities. In addition, the OI program participates in a multicenter, national research consortium focused on the brittle bone disorder providing clinical trials and treatments that are not widely available.

Mackenzie is the surgical director of Nemours’ multidisciplinary Skeletal Dysplasia Program. His medical expertise is focused on all forms of orthopedic treatment including the spine, hip and lower extremity deformity. Nemours is a nationally renowned destination with a comprehensive team of experts for patients with various forms of dwarfism, known as skeletal dysplasia. Nemours’ program provides the latest surgical and non-surgical treatments, as well as genetic testing, to patients from birth to age 35.

Natalie Corbett attended the endowed chair installation ceremony. Her 13-year-old son Isaac was diagnosed five days prior to his first birthday with a condition that causes skeletal problems and interferes with organ development. He was given a lifespan of approximately 5 years. The family, who lived in Virginia at the time, traveled to six different hospitals in five other states searching for answers before being referred to Dr. Mackenzie.

“Never had we seen the orthopedics, neurosurgery, and genetics teams in the same room, let alone on the same day, looking at the same films to determine how to care for Isaac. We knew then that we were in the right place,” Corbett said.

Along with the creation of two endowed chair positions, the gift will also create an endowment that will be used to provide extracurricular programming for skeletal dysplasia and OI patients and their families from across the country. This programming will include life skills training and provide families with the opportunity to hear from Nemours experts and learn from other families who have navigated similar journeys and can share valuable insight.

“These two endowed chair positions along with the creation of extracurricular programming will be critical to advancing our work in OI and skeletal dysplasia and continue to be at the forefront of treatment of complex orthopedic conditions in children,” Dr. Suken Shah, chair of the Department of Orthopedics and Shands/MacEwen Endowed Chair of Orthopedic Surgery, said in a statement. “Nemours and the Department of Orthopedics are honored that Mrs. Snyder decided to invest in our work and further our vision of creating the healthiest generations of children.”

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